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Damien Hirst: A Collector’s Guide

5 things you need to know about the British Conceptual artist known for his controversial take on beauty and found objects, Damien Hirst

Works featured on offer in West Chelsea Contemporary. 

Damien Hirst in front of his piece, The Physical Impossibility of Death in the Mind of Someone Living (1991)

Damien Hirst is a British Conceptual artist known for his controversial take on beauty and found-art objects. Along with Liam Gillick, Tracey Emin, and Sarah Lucas, Hirst was part of the Young British Artists movement that rose to prominence in the early 1990s. As a student at Goldsmiths College in London, his work caught the eye of the collector and gallerist Charles Saatchi, who became an early patron. Today the artist lives and works in London, UK.

Read below to discover more on Damien Hirst.

  1. Hirst’s The Physical Impossibility of Death in the Mind of Someone Living (1991) was financed by Saatchi and helped to launch the artist’s career. The Physical Impossibility of Death in the Mind of Someone Living (1991) is a large vitrine containing an Australian tiger shark suspended in formaldehyde. This piece is part of Hirst’s series called Natural History. His goal was to create a “zoo of dead animals,” which relates to his complex interest in the relationship between art, life and death. The display was shown at the Charles Saatchi Gallery’s ‘Young British Artists I’ exhibition in London. The shark, explained by Hirst as a “thing to describe a feeling”, remains one of the most iconic symbols of modern British art and popular culture in the early 90’s.
Damien Hirst, The Physical Impossibility of Death in the Mind of Someone Living (1991)
  1. Hirst went on to win the coveted Turner Prize in 1995. The Turner prize is given annually to a visual artist born in or based in Great Britain in recognition of an outstanding exhibition or other presentation of his/her work. It is considered the highest honor in the British art world. When he won the Turner Prize in 1995, Mother and Child Divided, a floor-based sculpture comprised of four glass wall tanks that contain the bisected halves of a cow and calf preserved in formaldehyde solution, was the focal point of the exhibition..
Damien Hirst, The Soul on Jacobs Ladder (2005) on view now at West Chelsea Contemporary
  1. In 2012, he showed what went on to be one of his most controversial pieces of work in decades, the installation In and Out of Love. Much of Hirst’s art revolves around life and death, so it doesn’t come as a shock that provoking art is associated with him. In and Out of Love consisted of two white windowless rooms in which over 9,000 butterflies flitted around and died. This installation attracted nearly 500,000 visitors, as well as the criticism of insect lovers for killing nearly 9,000 butterflies for the exhibition.
In and Out of Love, 1991 – Installed at Tate Modern, 2012
  1. Hirst opened the Newport Street Gallery in London In 2015.  His dream to open his own gallery grew from his long-term ambition to share his art collection with the public, where admission to the gallery is free. The gallery was initially a Victorian scenery-painting studio in Vauxhall, London, but was renovated and repurposed. The gallery presents exhibitions of work drawn from Damien Hirst’s art collection, which includes works by Banksy, Richard Hambleton, and Jeff Koons, as well as many emerging artists. The gallery also displays natural history specimens, taxidermy, anatomical models and historical artifacts.
Damien Hirst’s Gallery in south London
  1. His obsession with death originates from a variety of reasons. Hirst’s unique and distinctive works encapsulate his fascination with the relationships between the fundamental dilemmas of human existence, the fragility of life, society’s reluctance to confront death, and the nature of love and desire. His production of controversial and idiosyncratic art reflects Hirst’s fear of being ignored or irrelevant in the art world. His work, prompting death, forces the viewer to think about their–and society’s–perception of life and death.
Damien Hirst, Red Skull (2009) on offer at West Chelsea Contemporary

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What’s on now at WCC:

West Chelsea Contemporary’s nearly 8,000 square-foot gallery offers the opportunity to highlight work on a monumental scale. From 16-foot originals by RETNA and Cey Adams to colossal sculptural work—including a larger than life mixed media shark and painted aluminum spaceman—the gallery is activated by art world giant’s not only in a metaphorical sense. 

By contemplating ground-breaking movements from the past six decades, Icons & Vandals allows viewers to rediscover and redefine the art world’s most iconic and contentious house-hold names. These artists have left their mark on the development and progression of contemporary art by subverting the norms of their own time.  Through this show it becomes clear that these two labels are not mutually exclusive but in fact ingrained in their interconnectedness. 

Works from ICONS & VANDALS will be on display and for sale at West Chelsea Contemporary in beginning May 15.

Reach out today to inquire or acquire.



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