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Damien Hirst ( June 7, 1965 - Present)

Damien Hirst is an English artist and the most prominent member of the group known as "Young British Artists" (or YBAs). Hirst dominated the art scene in Britain during the 1990s. Death is a central theme in Hirst's works. He became famous for a series in which dead animals (including a shark, a sheep and a cow) are preserved—sometimes having been dissected—in formaldehyde. The Physical Impossibility of Death in the Mind of Someone Living, a 14-foot (4.3 m) tiger shark immersed in formaldehyde in a vitrine became the iconic work of British art in the 1990s and the symbol of Britart worldwide. Its sale in 2004 made him the world's second most expensive living artist after Jasper Johns.

On September 10, 2002, on the eve of the first anniversary of the 9/11 World Trade Center attacks, Hirst said in an interview with BBC News Online:

"The thing about 9/11 is that it's kind of like an artwork in its own right ... Of course, it's visually stunning and you've got to hand it to them on some level because they've achieved something which nobody would have ever have thought possible - especially to a country as big as America. So on one level they kind of need congratulating, which a lot of people shy away from, which is a very dangerous thing.”

The next week, following public outrage at his remarks, he issued a statement through his company, Science Ltd:

"I apologize unreservedly for any upset I have caused, particularly to the families of the victims of the events on that terrible day”

Although Hirst participated physically in the making of early works, he has always needed assistants (Carl Freedman helped with the first vitrines), and now the volume of work produced necessitates a "factory" setup, akin to Andy Warhol's or a Renaissance studio.  Hirst sees the real creative act as being the conception, not the execution, and that, as the progenitor of the idea, he is therefore the artist:

 

“Art goes on in your head," he says. "If you said something interesting, that might be a title for a work of art and I'd write it down. Art comes from everywhere. It's your response to your surroundings. There are on-going ideas I've been working out for years, like how to make a rainbow in a gallery. I've always got a massive list of titles, of ideas for shows, and of works without titles.”   - Damien Hirst