Damien Hirst

Born 1965.
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Damien Hirst Biography

With a flamboyant personality and penchant for self-promotion, Damien Hirst is perhaps the best-known British artist living today. Born in Bristol in 1965 but growing up in Leeds, Hirst had a lackluster early career; his work as a student at Goldsmiths School of Art has been described as undistinguished. But in 1988 he made a name for himself by organizing Freeze, an exhibition of student work that would later be considered the origin of the influential Young British Artists or YBA’s, a loosely affiliated group of Hirst and his peers such as Jake and Dinos Chapman, Tracey Emin and Sarah Lucas who would dominate the British art world in the 1990s.

Having maintained a preoccupation with the concept of death from an early age, Hirst has utilized preserved, dead animals as the primary material in several works, most notably The Physical Impossibility of Death in the Mind of Someone Living (1991), a tiger shark cadaver suspended in a tank of formaldehyde solution. A work based on similar artistic imperatives, Mother and Child (Divided) (1993), comprising four tanks each containing one-half of a severed cow and her calf, won him the prestigious Turner Prize in 1995. Hirst also created a satirical film Treasures from the Wreck of the Unbelievable documenting fake shipwreck art that also fetched international attention. Among others of his widely collected pieces are his colorful series such as Spot paintings, Butterfly paintings, and Spin paintings.

The artist’s works belong to numerous museums worldwide, including the Tate Modern, London, the Astrup Fearnley Collection, Oslo, and the Museum of Fine Arts Boston. In September 2008, Hirst made the unprecedented and historic decision to bypass the traditional art gallery model and sell more than 200 works at Sotheby’s New York, ultimately surpassing the sale’s high estimate of $177.6 million with a total of $200.7 million. According to Sotheby’s Mei Moses, the average annual return for Damien Hirst is 0.6%, with 88.7% of works increasing in value.

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Artist Image: © 2018 Damien Hirst / Artists Rights Society (ARS), New York / ADAGP, Paris 2018 / Photograph of Damien Hirst by Luke Stephenson [CC BY-SA 3.0], via Wikimedia Commons