Contemporary Art with a Rock n'Roll edge!

Damien Hirst

Winner of the Turner Prize in 1995, Damien Hirst was one of the infamous YBAs (Young British Artists) who gained notoriety in the 1990s. born in Bristol, but grew in Leeds, Hirst studied Fine Art at Goldsmiths, University of London, after famously only achieving an ‘E’ grade in A-Level Art. Whilst a student, Hirst had a placement at a mortuary, which greatly inspired his later work - and use of materials. 

Hirst’s work features death in all its forms - from the most brutal, visceral experiences to the beauty of a fleeting life before the inevitability of mortality. 

Through his art, a viewer can experience both the classic Medieval message of Memento Mori and the contemporary world’s attempt to erase death from our modern conscious. 

During the 1990s, Hirst’s career was closely linked to the collector Charles Saatchi, who paid to fund the creation of one his masterpieces ‘The Physical Impossibility of Death in the Mind of Someone Living’, a shark floating in formaldehyde, caught by a commissioned Australian fisherman. The work cost £6000 and sold for £50,000 after being shown in the first Young British Artists show at the Saatchi Gallery in 1992. Hirst and his work soon became a household name, famed for his animals in formaldehyde and even vandalism on his work - the artist Mark Bridger poured black ink into the tank containing ‘Away From the Flock’ (a sheep) and renamed it ‘Black Sheep’ in 1994. With the YBAs becoming intwined in the 90s Britpop culture, Hirst worked with the band Blur and its members, on videos and songs (Country House and Vindaloo), even directing  a short film with Eddie Izzard shown at the Hayward Gallery. In the meantime, his work was still causing controversy - a work with a rotting cow and bull was pulled in NYC due to fears of ‘public vomiting’. 

By the 2000s, Hirst had become a part of the art establishment and his controversy to this day mainly lies in his use of money to fund shows, artworks - and legal cases.