Lot 51
  • 51

Damien Hirst

250,000 - 350,000 GBP
Log in to view results
bidding is closed


  • Damien Hirst
  • Togetherness
  • glass, gold plated stainless steel, silicone, painted resin, acrylic, cows' heads and formaldehyde solution
  • 93.5 by 104.8 by 104.8cm.; 36 7/8 by 41 3/8 by 41 3/8 in.
  • Executed in 2008.


Sale: Sotheby’s, London, Damien Hirst – Beautiful Inside My Head Forever, 16 September 2008, Lot 275

Acquired directly from the above by the present owner 


Colour: The colour in the catalogue illustration is fairly accurate. Condition: This work is in very good condition.
"In response to your inquiry, we are pleased to provide you with a general report of the condition of the property described above. Since we are not professional conservators or restorers, we urge you to consult with a restorer or conservator of your choice who will be better able to provide a detailed, professional report. Prospective buyers should inspect each lot to satisfy themselves as to condition and must understand that any statement made by Sotheby's is merely a subjective, qualified opinion. Prospective buyers should also refer to any Important Notices regarding this sale, which are printed in the Sale Catalogue.

Catalogue Note

In 2008 Damien Hirst consolidated the core themes of his notorious artistic practice into a single spectacular two-day event. Comprising 244 brand-new artworks sold across two auctions held on the 15 and 16 September of that year – which significantly coincided with the feted collapse of Lehman Brothers and therein the beginning of the most significant economic crisis in history – Sotheby’s sale of Beautiful Inside My Head Forever can be viewed as an artistic ‘Happening’ of unparalleled extravagance and Duchampian irony. Together the works shared a formal and conceptual consistency: they presented conflations and juxtapositions of myriad bodies of Hirst’s past work tied together by a unifying aesthetic sensibility via the opulent use of gold. Hailing from this unique and ground-breaking artistic event, Togetherness from 2008 possesses the same gold-plated vitrine encasement as the auction’s centre-piece, The Golden Calf, whilst referring back to two major dialogues from Hirst’s earlier career; the Natural History series and his corpus of early conceptual beach ball/Ping-Pong ball works.

In this piece, four flayed and decapitated cows' heads of identical size face inwards and upwards, balancing an inflated beach ball on their noses. Here Hirst’s trademark tank containing preserved animal remains is visually and conceptually entwined with the artist’s earlier series of poetic works which contain a Ping-Pong or beach-ball suspended on a column of air. Stemming from the artist’s early emulation of Minimalism, works such as Loving in a World of Desire (1996) possess a mischievous poise, in which playfulness and danger hang in fragile balance; an unmistakable allusion to Hirst’s enduring preoccupation with life and death. Recapitulated twelve years later, this motif is emptied of its delicate and lively animation: instead of air, the ball is suspended by formaldehyde, in permanent equilibrium atop four bovine heads.

Preserved in fluid and contained within the thick parameters of Hirst’s signature glass vitrine, Togetherness builds on the themes synonymous with Hirst's paradigmatic Natural History corpus; the infamous ‘zoo of dead animals’ that together canonically encompass dissected cows, Some Comfort Gained from the Inherent Lies in Everything (1996); preserved lambs, Away from the Flock (1994); and the pickled shark of Hirst's colossal magnum opus, The Physical Impossibility of Death in the Mind of Someone Living (1991). Crossing unrivalled physical brutality with the cool detachment of a scientific specimen, these corporeal works give unrelenting expression to the disenchantment of modernity. With particular reference to the pantheon of cow’s heads respectively named after the twelve apostles, Hirst identified a new expression of spiritually for the forsaken contemporary moment: "The cows' heads appear sacrificial: the life of an animal substituted for the life of an individual" (Annushka Shani, 'Between fact and wonder: Damien Hirst's new religious works', Exhibition Catalogue, London, White Cube, Romance in the Age of Uncertainty, 2003, p. 9). Hirst tragically re-accustoms the viewer with the truth of the cow as slaughtered meat which in turn stimulates an intensely emotive visual identification with our own moribund corporeality.

With Togetherness, Hirst intertwines the extraordinary Natural History corpus with his minimalist/conceptual beach-ball works to engender a new realism: utterly concrete, physical and direct, this work powerfully confronts an inescapable reminder of the impermanence of our own physical machinery. In Hirst's own words: "I want to give you the energy to go way and think about your life again" (Damien Hirst quoted in: Exhibition Catalogue, Naples, Museo Archeologico Nazionale, Damien Hirst, 2004, p. 236).