Damien Hirst is an English artist and recipient of the prestigious Turner Prize. He is known for his
atypical and bizarre works. Hirst, ampoule a graduate of Fine Art from Goldsmiths University of London,
creates deviant art that aims to provoke a reaction from the spectator.
Much of Hirst’s work is visceral; it appeals more to the viewer’s feelings and senses often on a
primitive basis, rather than their intellect. Death is the subject of much of Hirst’s creations. Through
his work he inquisitively examines the relationship between life and death.
One of Hirst’s most renowned works is For the Love of God. This sculpture consists of what is
believed to be an 18th century skull encrusted in platinum and ethically sourced diamonds. It is a
memento mori and serves to remind the viewer of his own mortality and the inevitability of death.
This piece is both ethereal and superlunary and has been described by critics as “celestial”. Though
the subject of the sculpture is a rather morbid matter, it lacks a macabre quality and instead conveys
an elysian element that is unworldly. It has been suggested that the sculpture glorifies life and is a
study of life and death. However, this piece is open to individual interpretations, as many different
ideas are construed from such a profound sculpture.
The Physical Impossibility of Death in the mind of Something Living consists of a tiger shark preserved
in a formaldehyde solution and encompassed in a vitrine. The shark is presented in a suspended
animation-like state. This is possibly one of Hirst’s most primitive works, as the viewer is placed in
a cold confrontation with a predator. It is an iconic representation of British contemporary art. In
relation to the title of this piece, Hirst said: “[It was] just a statement that I had used to describe the
idea of death to myself”.
In conclusion, though much of Hirst’s work is a memento mori and deals with death, it examines life
and death in a celestial and superlunary fashion, constantly reminding the viewer of the inevitability
of death. His work is unusual and aesthetically profound. Hirst’s work can be viewed on his website
www.damienhirst.com. Other works of interest by Hirst include: The Dream , Black Sheep and Away
from the Flock .