United Kingdom • born in 1965

Biography and information

Biography and information

Damien Hirst (June 7, 1965, Bristol, UK) is the one who refutes the postulate that talent should be hungry. For today, his paintings and art objects (but more often defiant installations which excite one’s imagination) have brought Damien a multi-million fortune. According to some sources, the wealth of the artist was 215 million pounds in 2010. At the same time, the works of Damien Hirst drive picky critics crazy, cause the excitement among collectors and mixed reviews from art historians. All this does not prevent the artist to keep creating in his own unique style.

Peculiar features of the Damien Hirst’s art: death and butterflies fill the master’s installations, while his painting shines with vitality and optimism. It is difficult to mix up the artist’s work with someone else’s, as he made colored circles and spots the peculiar features of his artworks. Since each color spot is unique - there are no identical shapes and colors - the artist goes beyond the standard art stamps, he does not cling to balance and a traditional understanding of harmony. The artworks of Damien Hirst represent a brilliant and captivating chaos, which attracts attention of an adult like that of a child in a kaleidoscope. The magic of Damien Hirst is impossible to evaluate unambiguously - you only need to see it with your own eyes.

Famous installations and paintings by Damien Hirst: “Physical Impossibility of Death in the Mind of Someone Living” “Mother and Child (Divided)”, “For the Love of God”, a series of paintings “Spots”, “Spins”, “Butterflies.” 

Damien Hirst: how it all began

Damien was born in the British city of Bristol, but he remembered a little from his childhood: at a very young age the family of the future artist moved to Leeds, where Hirst spent his childhood and youth. The boy inherited a creative vein from his mother, who was an amateur artist. His father, being a car mechanic, was far from creativity - all his attention was occupied by cars that he repaired and sold. He left the family soon.

Damien Hirst's mother, the owner of a fine nature and gentle disposition, stated that she lost control of her son when he was young: the future genius constantly got into bad companies, fell for shoplifting and generally led a hooligan lifestyle. However, this did not stop Damien from following his vocation, so he entered the art school in Leeds, where he received his first art lessons. After that, there were two financially difficult years, when Hirst had to work as a laborer on London construction sites. Then numerous attempts to apply to all kinds of art colleges followed, and, finally, the future genius remained at Goldsmith, University of London, where he received his education from 1986 to 1989.

It was not an ordinary educational institution. In those days, the college was considered a kind of pioneer of art education. His teachers practiced an innovative teaching system when students were not required to draw or paint in oil. The most important thing was to be really captivated by one`s art and be ready to devote most of one’s time to it. Damien Hirst turned out to be just such a person, so very soon he joined the friendly team of the people who were truly obsessed with art. Today, the educational model proposed by Goldsmith is popular all over the world.

During his studying at College, Damien Hirst chose a non-standard place for inspiration: this was... a mortuary. Therefore, this experience has influenced his later exploiting the theme of death, and it still inhabits his work.

Why are the installations and paintings by Damien Hirst so challenging?

In 1988, Damien tried himself as a curator of the famous Freeze art exhibition in London, where 17 students of his alma mater presented their works. Hirst did everything himself: he arranged the exhibition, selected the participants, did the layout of the catalog. All organizational issues fell on his shoulders. Among many works, the creation of the youngest artist was also presented for public view - this was an installation from the painted cardboard boxes.

At the end of the exhibition, the famous collector Charles Saatchi approached Hirst to express his recognition saying that it was Damien Hirst’s work that impressed him the most. That was how the long lasting cooperation between the artist and the famous philanthropist began. Saatchi allocated a lot of money for Hirst to create many of his famous works, including a live shark in the installation “Physical Impossibility of Death in the Mind of Someone Living”, the fish was sold for six and a half million pounds to the collector Steven Cohen.

The eerie, but at the same time truthful and ideological installation of “Mother and Child (Divided)” - a cow and a calf’s organs in formaldehyde tanks - brought Damien Hirst recognition in 1993, when the master presented it at the Biennale festival.

One of the latest projects of the artist who does not leave indifferent everyone who at least somehow is involved in art, is a sculpture called “For the Love of God”. This is a human skull made of platinum. The teeth in it is a real human jaw. The sculpture is decorated with diamonds weighing 1100 carats (8061 pieces), and in the center of the forehead there is a bright “star” - a pink diamond of 52.4 carats of classical cut. For this sculpture, the artist received 50 million pounds.

Despite the solemn gloominess of his installations, Damien Hirst's paintings are distinguished by their brightness, originality and fun. They evoke fabulous and dreamy mood. Sometimes they even decorate children's rooms. However, in fact, in his paintings the theme of death is always present, though carefully veiled and presented in optimistic colors. Here are the most famous paintings and collections of Damien Hirst:

● “Rotations” - if abstract expressionism had a standard, this series of paintings could be classified as such. To create such artwork, Hirst simply pours or drips paint onto a rotating canvas, resulting in an absolutely unique image.

● "Spots" - Damien Hirst is not a drug advocate. However, some of the works in this series are called catchy, in honor of excitatory or hallucinogenic substances like “Diamorphine”, “Aprotinin”, “Zomepirak”. They are a lattice of circles of approximately the same size, but the colors are completely unique.

● “Butterflies” is a series of assemblages, or, if you like, creepy applications. To create them, Damien Hirst uses freshly painted canvas and dead butterflies. At the same time, the canvas is monophonic, and the butterflies are variegated and multi-colored.

● In his "Kaleidoscopes" series, the artist creates kaleidoscopic patterns from closely spaced butterflies.

It is noteworthy that in 2012 a whole flurry of accusations and complaints from various animal protection societies rained down on Hirst. The fact was that for the installation “'In and Out of Love” he used the butterflies, which were originally alive, but died gradually during the event. 9,000 pieces of exotic beauties fell victim to art, which is sometimes not without cynicism and cruelty.

So, Damien Hirst is one of the most controversial figures of our time, and he does not lack recognition. His work can make one feel goosebumps, and these goosebumps became the key to his success. The installations and paintings by Damien Hirst are snapped up by wealthy collectors, and the creator himself travels to various cities of the world with his exhibitions in order to surprise, excite the imagination, disgust, and ... delight.