”Art is like medicine – it can heal. Yet I’ve always been amazed at how many people believe in medicine but don’t believe in art, without questioning either.” – Damien Hirst
Born in 1965 in Bristol, Damien Hirst grew up in Leeds and subsequently went to Goldsmith’s College in London. Between 1988 and 1990 he curated a series of art exhibitions by his contemporaries including the highly acclaimed group shows Freeze, Modern Medicine and Gambler.
In his own art Damien Hirst has continually challenged the boundaries between art, science, the media and popular culture. A 12-foot tiger shark, a cow and her calf sawn in two, pharmacy bottles, house paint poured onto spinning canvases, spot paintings, cigarette butts, medicine cabinets, office furniture, medical instruments, butterflies and tropical fish are just some of the means Damien Hirst employs to communicate his unflinching view of the ambiguity at the heart of human experience. Damien Hirst has said ”I am going to die and I want to live forever. I can’t escape the fact, and I can’t let go of the desire.”
Damien Hirst original limited edition prints, drawings and paintings continue to increase in popularity, demand and price. In 2004 his Pharmacy sale at Sothebys was expected to make o3 million GBP but instead recorded sales of o11 million GBP. There is no doubt that Damien Hirst is destined to continue his number one position in the British art market and has recently been compared to Andy Warhol and Pablo Picasso in terms of popularity and rising prices.
Much of his Damien Hirst prints can be divided into three areas: Spots, Spins and Pharmaceutical. His spot etchings and lambda prints such as Valium, Opium, LSD, Methaphetamine, Tetrahydracannabinol and Cineole lull the viewer into an optimistic and peaceful state. Hirst spin etchings, In a Spin, the Action of the World on Things (Volumes I and II) created by using spinning plates, etching tools, brushes and acid mesmerise the onlooker. His pharmaceutical prints, especially the Last Supper portfolio draws upon the parallels of art and medicine as ”healers’. The metaphoric title distances the onlooker from the art to a point but also seems suggestive, perhaps also including the biblical fact of St Matthew the disciple as a physician – or indeed St Damien the Doctor (usually iconographically depicted with St Cosmas).
Making Beautiful Drawings
Damien Hirst has had exhibitions in galleries and museums throughout the world. In 1994 Hirst received the DAAD fellowship in Berlin and the Turner Prize in 1995.The Marble Palace at the Russian State Museum, Llubljana made a solo exhibition of Hirst’s drawings in 2003 as part of the 25th International Graphic Biennale. In 2004, Damien Hirst collaborated with Sarah Lucas and Angus Fairhurst on an exhibition of recent works entitled In-a-Gadda-da-Vida at Tate Britain and presented a survey of key works from 1989-2004 at the Museo Nazionale Archaeologico de Naples.