Damien Hirst

Damien Hirst was born in 1965, in Bristol. From 1986 to 1989 he studied a fine art degree at Goldsmith's College, University of London.

"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, reproached and exalted by the media and public alike.

He was short-listed for the Turner Prize in 1992, and won the award when he was nominated again in 1995. His works were selected on the basis of his exhibitions at the Institute of Contemporary Art, the Saatchi Gallery, and his touring show, which opened at the Serpentine Gallery.

"Hirst's work is an examination of the processes of life and death: the ironies, falsehoods and desires that we mobilise 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."

"Damien Hirst shaped shared ideas and interests quickly and easily, his work developing during the decade [1987-1997] to reflect changes in contemporary life. Relying on the straightforward appeal of colour and form, he made important art that contained little mystery in its construction. Adopting the graphic punch of billboard imagery, his work was arresting at a distance and physically surprising close up. Hirst understood art at its most simple and at its most complex.

He reduced painting to its basic elements to eliminate abstraction's mystery. In the age of art as a commodity he made spot paintings - saucer-sized, coloured circles on a white ground - that became luxury designer goods. His art was direct but never empty. In the later spin paintings, which emphasised a renewed interest in a hands-on process of making, Hirst magnified a 'hobby'-art technique, drawing attention to the accidental and expressive energy of the haphazard. Influenced by Jeff Koons's basketballs floating in water, Hirst's early work used pharmacy medicine cabinets that showed the applied beauty of Modernist design.

A cabinet of individual fish suspended in formaldehyde worked like the spot paintings, as an arrangement of colour, shape and form. This work came to be seen in the popular mind as a symbol of advanced art; overcoming an initial distrust of its ease of assembly, people became fascinated by how ordinary things of the world could be placed so as to be seen as beautiful. The work democratised its meaning, operating as simply as a pop song.

Valium print was produced in one single print run of 500 signed and numbered pieces in early 2000. The print was conceptualised at Hirst's studio in Devon, before being published and released to much critical acclaim in London. Produced by the Eyestorm Gallery, the print medium is unusual in being essentially fuji photographic paper, onto which the 48" diameter impression of spots was applied using lithography techniques.

The result is a bold and striking impression on a large scale, to the extent that the viewer almost feels all consumed by the piece. Hirst's inspiration for the piece was, like so much of his work, the world of medicine and pharmaceuticals, claiming that "Valium" represents what Hirst believes Valium the pharmaceutical drug would look like under the microscope. It is also claimed that no two spots on the piece are the exact same colour.

The print was initially released at c. £1250, rising steadily in value, the final 50 pieces selling out in a last minute testament to Hirst's ability to create a media storm, and this at a revised price of £5000. Valium is yet to reappear on the resale market at auction since selling out earlier this year. Demand would imply a medium term residual value of £8000, rising to £12000 on the 5-year view for pieces in excellent condition. Coupled with Hirst's steady rise up the rankings of artist's turnover at auction, Valium represents a work that would infuse contemporary style and appearance into any environment, coupled with strong intellectual thinking behind it's conception.

Currently available at The Art Collector. Lycergic Acid Diethylamide (LSD) is an excellent example of Hirst's "dot" prints. Prices are set to increase at month end as the publishers have notified dealers that the edition is almost sold out. The price should reach $10000- $12000 (excluding shipping, taxes and framing) in the next year or two. This calculation is based on the price moves of "valium" illustrated above. The edition is also smaller (at 300) and offers a good short to medium term investment.

Copyright © 2004 The Art Collector CC | All Rights Reserved | info@theartcollector.co.za