Biography

Damien Hirst curated the widely acclaimed Freeze exhibition in 1988 while still a student at Goldsmiths College. This show launched the careers of many successful young British artists, including his own. Hirst graduated from Goldsmiths in 1989, and has since become the most famous living British artist after David Hockney. In 1991, Hirst presented In and Out of Love, an installation for which he filled a gallery with hundreds of live tropical butterflies, some spawned from monochrome canvases on the wall. With The Physical Impossibility of Death in the Mind of Someone Living (1991), his infamous tiger shark in a glass tank of formaldehyde shown at the Saatchi Gallery, Damien Hirst became a media icon and household name. He has since been imitated, parodied, reproached and exalted by the media and public alike. Hirst's work is an examination of the processes of life and death: the ironies, falsehoods and desires that we mobilize to negotiate our own alienation and mortality. His production can be roughly grouped into three areas: paintings, cabinet sculptures and the glass tank pieces. The paintings divide into spot and spin paintings. The former are randomly organised, colour-spotted canvases with titles that refer to pharmaceutical chemicals. The spin paintings are 'painted' on a spinning table, so that each individual work is created through centrifugal force. For the cabinet series, Hirst displayed collections of surgical tools or hundreds of pill bottles on highly ordered shelves. The tank pieces incorporate dead and sometimes dissected animals - cows, sheep or the shark - preserved in formaldehyde, suspended in death.