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The Empresses Set of 5
A recurring theme in Damien Hirst’s works, the butterfly, epitomises beauty and transience. In his most recent five-part series, the old master of the Young British Artists explores a topos that, above all, challenges our knowledge of Western history. The silk-screen works, printed with a fine lustre, are all named after female rulers whose respective provenances were Persian-Indian, Byzantine, Chinese, Japanese and Ethiopian history. Hirst pays tribute to these outstanding, though largely unknown queens: Nur Jahan, Theodora, Wu Zetian, Suiko, Taytu Betul not only by a dazzling work of art, but also with a distinctive pattern, which reveals itself to be a finely crafted mosaic composed of count-less butterfly wings. The form and appearance of the mosaic refer, in turn, to historical and biographical aspects of these regents. To appreciate the images in their full depth and significance, this encourages us, the viewers, to examine the lives and heritage of these remarkable women.
Founding member of the Young British Artists Damien Hirst proves that one way of remaining true to yourself is by reinventing yourself. With his large-format Cherry Blossoms, he fulfilled an old dream of his and his mother’s: Back when he submerged a tiger shark in formaldehyde, she implored him to at least once paint flowers. Three years ago, he did just that. Working alone and in seclusion, Hirst spent three years producing an inordinate number of paintings. In all versions, he applied enormous quantities of paint onto canvases arranged in parallel in his London studio. He painted and dripped, he flung paint, he approached the canvas in a state of intoxication and stepped back to inspect it – until his vision, expressed in paint, resembled a Japanese cherry blossom. So far, these works could be admired at the Fondation Cartier and the National Art Center Tokyo. Anyone familiar with Hirst knows that for him the cherry blossom is a symbol not just of beauty but also of ephemerality. In this way, Hirst has remained true to his most central theme.
About the Artist
At the beginning there was a dot. Circular, neither too large nor too small, unimposing, coloured. One dot, plain and simple. It stood on the wall of a warehouse in London, an area converted into an exhibition space. Other dots soon appeared around this dot, equidistant from one another, painted onto the wall. A square grid of coloured dots emerged. To prove how diverse such a grid of coloured dots could be, Damien Hirst painted a second next to it. They were called “Edge” and “Row”.
The effect was so effortlessly successful, the focus on a theme so profound. How can colours so concentrated, so bare, and yet so full of meaning, become art, become an image style? “Edge” and “Row” were both a product and the beginning of an artistic approach to colour that has been continually evolving since 1988.
Some of the grids remind us of medicines in the pharmaceutical industry. The soft pastel colours and uniform patterns of the coloured pills suggest a pain-free zone. The cryptic title given to the series by Hirst is also evocative of pharmaceutical ingredients. They have names that, were you to place them next to one another and read aloud, would sound like a poem in concrete prose: Mepromate Lepidine Histidyl - Abalone Acetone Powder.
The transferability of meaning and the transformation of content is very much in keeping with the style of the artist. One might recall the live tiger shark Hirst submerged in formalin in 1991. A silent killer of the deepest oceans, it looked out at the viewers from inside an enormous blue container, mouth wide open, teeth razor sharp. The threatening work was given the name “The physical impossibility of death in the mind of someone living”. Can anyone divide public opinion and whip the global art market into a frenzy in such a way? In 2007 he produced a human skull made from platinum and encrusted with 8601 pure diamonds, including a 52 carat diamond centrepiece mounted on the forehead. The skull was bought by an investment group for around $100 million. The plot thickened as we later learned that Hirst himself was a member of the group.
Hirst’s art is created to be ambivalent and revolves around a focal point in his thinking: “I’ve got an obsession with death … But I think it’s like a celebration of life rather than something morbid”. Whether preserving animals in formalin, creating kaleidoscopic images from butterflies, or covering skull x-rays with captivating colour mixtures, the young Tate Modern artist always manages to give death a smile.
1965 Born in Bristol, UK 1986-1989 Goldsmith College „Fine Arts“ 1988 Curator of the exhibition „Freeze“, Surrey Docks, London, UK 1990 Curator of the exhibition „Modern Medicine“, Building One, London, UK 2007 The artwork “For the Love of God” is sold for € 75 Million and is the most expensive work of contemporary art according to British media reports Lives in Devon and has Studios in London, Gloucester and Devon, UKAwards
1995 Turner PrizeCollectionsThe artist’s works belong to numerous museums worldwide, including Tate Modern in London, the Astrup Fearnley Collection in Oslo, and the Museum of Fine Arts Boston.Exhibitions
2022 Damien Hirst: Cherry Blossoms, National Art Center, Tokyo, Japan Damien Hirst: Myths, Legends and Monsters, Gagosian Gallery, Gstaad, Switzerland Damien Hirst: Forgiving and Forgetting, Gagosian Gallery, New York, USA 2021 Damien Hirst: His Own Worst Enemy, White Cube, Hong Kong, Hong Kong Damien Hirst: Forgiving and Forgetting, Gagosian Gallery, Rome, Italy Damien Hirst: Cherry Blossoms, Fondation Cartier pour l'art contemporain, Paris, France Damien Hirst: Cathedrals Built on Sand, Gagosian Gallery, Paris, France 2020 Damien Hirst: End of a Century, Newport Street Gallery, London, UK Selections from The Last Supper, Kemper Museum of Contemporary Art, Kansas City, USA 2019 Damien Hirst: Mandalas, White Cube, London, UK Sneaker Collab, MUDAC, Musée de design et d'arts appliques contemporains ,Lausanne, Switzerland Damien Hirst, Yorkshire Sculpture Park, Wakefield, UK Damien Hirst: At Play, Gormleys Fine Art, Dublin, Irland Damien Hirst: Cherry Blossoms, Portland Art Museum, Portland, USA 2018 Damien Hirst: Works from Schizophrenogenesis - Selected works, Galerie Boisséree, Cologne, Germany Damien Hirst: Colour Space Paintings, Gagosian Gallery, New York, USA Damien Hirst: Mickey and Minnie, Lots of Spots, A Big Heart and A Butterfly or Two ,Gormleys Fine Art, Belfast , UK Damien Hirst: The Veil Paintings, Los Angeles, USA Damien Hirst: Schizophrenogenesis Limited Edition Book Launch, Paul Stolper, London, UK Damien Hirst, Galerie Bastian, Berlin, Germany 2017 Damien Hirst: Visual Candy and Natural History, Gagosian Gallery, Hong Kong, Hong Kong Damien Hirst: Treasures from the Wreck of the Unbelievable, Palazzo Grassi, François Pinault Foundation, Venice, Italy Damien Hirst, Gary Tatintsian Gallery, Moscow, Russia Damien Hirst, Gow Langsford Gallery, Auckland, New Zealand 2016 Damien Hirst: New Religion, Paul Stolper, Skopje, Macedonia 2015 Psalm Prints by Damien Hirst, Other Criteria, New York, USA Damien Hirst, Astrup Fearnley Museet, Oslo, Norway Damien Hirst x Lalique: ETERNAL ,Other Criteria, New York, USA Damien Hirst, Aurel Scheibler, Berlin, Germany Psalm Prints by Damien Hirst, Other Criteria, New York, USA Damien Hirst: LOVE, Paul Stolper, London, UK 2014 Damien Hirst: Black Scalpel Cityscapes, White Cube, Sao Paulo, Brazil Damien Hirst: Schizophrenogenesis, Paul Stolper, London, UK 2013 Damien Hirst: Freedom not Genius, Multimedia Art Museum, Moscow / Moscow House of Photography, Moscow, Russia Damien Hirst: He Tried to Internalise Everything, 1992-1994, The New Art Gallery Walsall ,Walsall, UK Damien Hirst: Entomology Cabinets and Paintings, Scalpel Blade Paintings and Colour Charts, White Cube, Hong Kong, Hong Kong Damien Hirst: The Spot Woodcuts, Carolina Nitsch Contemporary Art, New York, USA 2012 Damien Hirst: Two Weeks One Summer, PinchukArtCentre, Kiev, Ukraine Damien Hirst: Nucleohistone, Mattatoio Rome, Rome, Italy Damien Hirst. Retrospective at Tate Modern, London, UK Damien Hirst: The Complete Spot Paintings 1986-2011, Gagosian Gallery, New York, Beverly Hills, London, Paris, Rom, Genf, Athen, Hong Kong Damien Hirst Donation, Arken Museum of Modern Art, Ishøj, Dänemark 2011 Damien Hirst: Artist Rooms, Tate Britain, London, UK 2010 Cornucopia, Musée océanographique de Monaco, Monte Carlo, Monaco For the Love of God, Palazzo Vecchio, Florenz, Italien 2009 Nothing Matters, White Cube/ Huxton Square/ Mason Yard, London, UK 2008 Requiem, PinchukArtCentre, Kiew, Ukraine
For the Love of God, Rijksmuseum, Amsterdam, Niederlande
Damien Hirst, Museum of Contemporary Art Denver, USA 2007 Damien Hirst: Life, Death and Love, Kunsthuset Kabuso, Øystese, Norwegen Damien Hirst: Four Works from the Board Art Foundation, Portland Art Museum, Portland, USA 2006 The Death of God – Towards a Better Understanding of a Life Without God Aboard the Ship of Fools, Galeria Hilario Galguera, Mexico City, Mexiko 2005 Damien Hirst, Astrup Fearnley Museet fur Moderne Kunst, Oslo, Norwegen A Selection of Works by Damien Hirst from Various Collections, Museum of Fine Arts, Boston, USA 2004 The Agony and the Ecstasy: Selected Works from 1989 – 2004, Museo Archeologico Nazionale di Napoli, Neapel, Italien 2003 Romance in the Age of Uncertainty, White Cube/Hoxton Square, London, UK
2022 Best of British, Maddox Gallery, London, UK Take Care: Art and Medicine, Kunsthaus Zürich, Zürich, Switzerland Crown Jewels: Best of British Contemporary, Gormleys Fine Art, Dublin, Ireland 2021 Winter Contemporary, Maddox Gallery, Gstaad, Switzerland The Art of Food, University of Arizona Museum of Art, Tucson, Arizona, USA Ti Con Zero, Palazzo delle Esposizioni, Rome, Italy The Hour Forever, Dellasposa, London, UK Stützmappe and Bonobos: Synergies, BORCH Editions & Studio, Kopenhagen, Denmark Summer Contemporary, Maddox Gallery, London, UK; Gstaad, Switzerland Neo-Abstraction: Celebrating a Gift of Contemporary Art from John and Sara Shlesinger, Georgia Museum of Art, Athen, USA Sante D'Orazio: Priests, Hall Art Foundation, Schloss Derneburg Museum, Hildesheim, Germany POP Power from Warhol to Koons, Figge Art Museum, Davenport; David Owsley Museum of Art, Muncie, USA Within Reach: Masters' Editions, Today Art Museum, Beijing, China Signatures (X), Smallville, Neuchatel, Switzerland Healing Power, Tropenmuseum, Amsterdam, Netherlands 2020 Love, Life, Death, and Desire: An Installation of the Center’s Collections, Yale Center for British Art, New Haven, USA Artcels Presents 'XXI’, HOFA Gallery, Mykonos, Greece Colección Jumex: On The Razor’s Edge, Museo Jumex , Mexico City, Mexiko Lichtblicke, Galerie Koch, Hannover, Germany Animals in Art, Arken Museum of Modern Art, Ishøj, Denmark Mythologies: The Beginning And End Of Civilizations, ARoS Aarhus Kunstmuseum, Århus, Denmark Astrup Fearnley Collection, Astrup Fearnley Museet, Oslo, Norway Animals in Art, Arken Museum of Modern Art, Ishøj, Denmark 2019 Accrochage, Galerie Boisséree, Köln, Germany Objects of Wonder: From Pedestal to Interaction, ARoS Aarhus Kunstmuseum, Århus, Denmark One Way Ticket to Mars, Kunsthal KAdE, Amersfoort, Netherlands Stützmappe, BORCHs Butik ,Kopenhagen, Denmark Objects of Wonder. British Sculpture from the Tate Collection 1950s – Present, PalaisPopulaire, Berlin, Germany Modern and Contemporary Works from the Permanent Collection, Middlebury College Museum of Art, Middlebury, USA 2018 Au rendez-vous des amis, Aurel Scheibler, Berlin, Germany The Last Image. Photography and Death, C/O Berlin, Berlin, Germany Do it, Kalamazoo Institute of Arts. Kalamazoo, USA Gonzalo Torné & Quico Rivas, CAC Málaga, Malaga, Spain Ellos y nosotros (Them and Us), Es Baluard, Museum of Modern & Contemporary Art, Palma De Mallorca, Spain Sights & Sounds: Art, Nature, and the Senses, Toledo Museum of Art, Toledo, USA Memory Palace, White Cube, London, UK Democracy Anew?, PinchukArtCentre, Kiev, Ukraine Walking On The Fade Out Lines, Rockbund Art Museum, Shanghai, China WOW!, Leopold Museum ,Vienna, Austria Brit Art, Rhodes Contemporary Art, London, UK 2017 Jewellery by Artists: From Picasso to Koons. Diane Venet’s Collection, LNMM, Latvian National Museum of Art, Riga, Latvia Like a Moth to a flame, OGR - Officine Grandi Riparazioni, Turin, Italy We Are Not Alone, Athr Gallery, Jeddah, Saudi Arabia Beyond Limits, Sotheby's London, UK Giving back to Nature, Opera Gallery, Beirut, Lebanon Colori. The Emotions of Color in Art, Castello di Rivoli Museum of Contemporary Art, Turin, Italy Palm Springs Popup, Ikon Ltd., Santa Monica, USA 2016 Art Against Art, Parkett Editions, Zürich, Switzerland Creature, The Broad, Los Angeles, USA In the Cage of Freedom, Kunstmuseum Wolfsburg, Wolfsburg, Germany Corpus: Anatomical Theatre, National Centre for Contemporary Arts, St. Petersburg, Russia Skulls, Fried Contemporary, Pretoria, South Africa Curated By (?), Fondazione Sandretto Re Rebaudengo, Turin, Italy Sculpture on the Move 1946–2016, Kunstmuseum Basel, Basel, Switzerland Audacious: Contemporary Artists Speak Out, Denver Art Museum, Denver, USA LIFE ITSELF, Moderna Museet, Stockholm ,Stockholm, Sweden 2015 The World is Made of Stories, Astrup Fearnley Museet, Oslo, Norway Wintertime, Aurel Scheibler, Berlin, Germany Maurizio Nannucci: Top Hundred, Museion, Museo d'Arte Moderna e Contemporanea, Bolzano, Italy Beyond Limits: The Landscape of British Sculpture 1950-2015, Sotheby's London, UK What We Call Love: From Surrealism to Now, Irish Museum of Modern Art, Dublin, Ireland The Rise of Sneaker Culture, Brooklyn Museum of Art, New York, USA Fire and Forget on Violence, KW Institute for Contemporary Art, Berlin, Germany Magnificent Obsessions: The Artist as Collector, Barbican Art Gallery, London, UK 2014 Peter Marino: One Way, Bass Museum of Art, Miami, USA CORNUCOPIA, Parkett Editions, Zürich, Switzerland Beyond and Between, Leeum, Samsung Museum of Art, Seoul, South Korea Art Multiples, 313 Art Project, Seoul, South Korea 14 Rooms, Art Basel, Basel, Switzerland Second Life, KMAC Museum ,Louisville, USA Front Row, CFA, Contemporary Fine Arts, Berlin, Germany 2013 Love, Now More Than Ever, Mori Art Museum, Minato-ku, Tokyo, Japan The Gesture and the Sign, White Cube, São Paulo, Sao Paulo, Brazil 2012 Don't Be Shy, Don't Hold Back ,SFMOMA, San Francisco Museum of Modern Art ,San Francisco, California, USA ARTandPRESS - Art. Truth. Reality., ZKM | Center for Art & Media, Karlsruhe, Germany 12 Rooms, Museum Folkwang Essen, Essen, Germany Made in Britain : Modern Art from the British Council Collection, Benaki Museum of Greek Culture, Athen, Greece Regarding Warhol: Sixty Artists, Fifty Years, The Metropolitan Museum of Art, New York, USA Art and Press, ZKM/ Museum of Contemporary Art, Karlsruhe, Martin-Gropius-Bau, Berlin, Deutschland 12 Rooms: Ruhr Triennale 2012, Museum Folkwang, Essen, Deutschland British Design 1948 – 2012: Innovation in the Modern Age, Victoria Albert Museum, London, UK Made in Britain: Modern Art from the British Council Collection, Benaki Museum, Athen, Griechenland 2011 O’Clock: time design, design time, Triennale di Milano, Mailand, Italien In the Name of the Artists – American Contemporary Art from the Astrup Fearnley Collection, Bienal pavilion, Sao Paulo, Brasilien Selected works from the Francois Pinault Collection: Agony and Ecstasy, ongeun Artspace, Seoul, Korea Yokohama Triennale, Yokohama Museum of Art, Japan Fondazione Prada _ Ca'Corner della Regina, Prada Foundation, Venedig, Italien The Luminous Interval, Guggenheim, Bilbao, Spanien 2010 Plus Ultra, Macro, Rom, Italien Have You Ever Really Looked at the Sun?, Haunch of Vension, Berlin, Deutschland I LOVE YOU, ARoS Aarhus Kunstmuseum, Arhus, Dänemark C’est la vie: Vanités de Caravage à Damien Hirst, Musée Maillol, Paris, Frankreich 2009 BAROCK – Art, Science, Faith and Technology in the Contemporary Age, MADRE, Neapel, Italien Medicine and Art: Imagining a Future for Life and Love, Mori Art Museum, Tokyo, Japan Pop Life, Tate Modern, London, UK, 2010 Hamburger Kunsthalle, Hamburg, Deutschland 15 Years of Collecting - Against the Grain, Kunstmuseum Wolfsburg, Deutschland Spridd isolerad konst (Scattered and Isolated Art), Kalmar Art Museum, Kalmar, Schweden 2008 Drei. Das Triptychon In Der Moderne, Kunstmuseum Stuttgart, Deutschland Art, Price and Value – Contemporary art and the market, Palazzo Strozzi, Florenz, Italien Statuephilia, British Museum, London, UK END GAME – British Contemporary Art from the Chaney Family Collection, Museum of Fine Arts, Houston, USA Blood on Paper: The Art of the Book, Victoria and Albert Museum, London, UK Color Chart: Reinventing Color, 1950 to Today, MOMA, New York, USA The Inaugural Installation, Broad Contemporary Art Museum at LACMA, Los Angeles, USA 2007 Art Machines – Machine Art, Schirn Kunsthalle, Frankfurt/M, Deutschland Reflection, PinchukArtCentre, Kiew, Ukraine
Turner Prize: A Retrospective, Tate Britain, London, UK
Contemporary and Cutting Edge: Pleasures of Collecting, Part III, Bruce Museum, Greenwich, USA David Bailey & Damien Hirst: The Stations of the Cross, Essl Museum of Contemporary Art, Wien, Österreich RE-OBJECT, Kunsthaus Bregenz, Bregenz, Österreich Draw, Middlesborough Institute of Modern Art, Middlesborough, UK 2006 Aftershock: Contemporary British Art, 1990-2006, Guangdong Museum of Art, Peking, China The François Pinault Collection, a Post-Pop Selection, Palazzo Grassi, Venedig, Italien RADAR: Selections from the Collection of Vicki & Kent Logan, Denver Art Museum, USA Visitaciones, Museo de San Carlos, Mexico City, Mexiko Into Me / Out of Me, PS1 MOMA, New York, USA Tokyo Blossoms: Deutsche Bank Collection meets Zaha Hadid, Hara Museum, Tokyo, Japan 2005 Rückkehr ins All/ Return to Space, Hamburger Kunsthalle, Deutschland Douglas Gordon’s The Vanity of Allegory, Deutsche Guggenheim, Berlin, Deutschland Contemporary Voices: Works from the UBS Art Collection, MOMA, New York, USA Prague Biennale 2, Prag, Tschechien 2004 From Moore to Hirst: Sixty Years of British Sculpture, National Museum Of Art, Bukarest, Rumänien Intra-muros, Musée d’Art Moderne et d’Art Contemporain, Nizza, Frankreich Works and Days: Acquisitions for the Louisiana Collection 2000-2004, Louisiana Museum of Modern Art, Humlebæk, Dänemark Monument To Now, Nea Ionia Exhibition Space, DESTE Foundation for Contemporary Art, Athen, Griechenland La Collection d’Art Contemporain D’Agnes B, Les Abattoirs, Toulouse, Frankreich Secrets of the ‘90s, Museum voor Moderne Kunst Arnhem, Arnhem, Niederlande In-A-Gadda-Da-Vida, Tate Britain, London, UK Turning Points: 20th Century British Sculpture, Tehran Museum of Contemporary Art, Teheran, Iran 2003 Dreams and Conflicts: The Dictatorship of the Viewer, 50. Biennale Venedig, Italien 1997 Sensation: Young British Artists from the Saatchi Collection, Royal Academy of Arts, London, UK 1988 Freeze, Surrey Docks, London, UK