Damien Hirst explores the uncertainty at the core of human experience; love, life, death, loyalty and betrayal through unexpected and unconventional media. Best known for the ‘Natural History’ works, which present animals in vitrines suspended in formaldehyde, such as the iconic The Physical Impossibility of Death in the Mind of Someone Living (1991) and Mother and Child Divided (1993), his works recast fundamental questions concerning the meaning of life and the fragility of biological existence. For Hirst, the vitrine functions as both window and barrier, seducing the viewer into the work visually while providing a minimalist geometry to frame, contain and objectify his subject. In many of the sculptures of the 1990s a human presence was implied through the inclusion of relic-like objects: clothes, cigarettes, ashtrays, tables and chairs. Hirst is equally known for his paintings. These include his ‘Butterfly Paintings’, that consist of actual butterflies suspended in paint, or thousands of butterfly wings arranged in a mandala-like pattern, made up of butterflies interspersed with thousands of highly coloured insects and spiders, embodying the fragility of life whilst retaining an iridescent beauty, even in death.
Through his work Hirst investigates and challenges contemporary belief systems, and dissects the uncertainties at the heart of human experience. Since 1987, over 80 solo Damien Hirst exhibitions have taken place worldwide, and his work has been included in over 260 group shows. Hirst’s solo exhibitions include Qatar Museums Authority, ALRIWAQ Doha (2013-2014), Tate Modern, London (2012); Palazzo Vecchio, Florence (2010); Oceanographic Museum, Monaco (2010); The Wallace Collection, London (2009-10); Galerie Rudolfinum, Prague (2009); Rijksmuseum, Amsterdam (2008); Astrup Fearnley Museet fur Moderne Kunst, Oslo (2005); Museo Archeologico Nazionale, Naples (2004). He was awarded the Turner Prize in 1995.
Damien Hirst was born in 1965 in Bristol and grew up in Leeds. In 1984 he moved to London, where he studied Fine Arts at Goldsmiths college from 1986 to 1989. Whilst in his second year, he conceived and curated a group exhibition entitled ‘Freeze’. The show is commonly acknowledged to have been the launching point not only for Hirst, but for a generation of British artists. Damien Hirst’s wide-ranging practice – installation, sculpture, painting and drawing – has sought to challenge the boundaries between art, science and popular culture. His energy and inventiveness and his consistently visceral, visually arresting work, has made him a leading artist of his generation.
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