Dare you look life and death in the face? Damien Hirst does, and he invites you watch with him. Beauty and decay go hand in hand in his art.
“Art is like medicine – it can heal you. I’ve never understood how some people believe completely in medicine and not in art, without questioning either.”
Coloured spots and cows in formaldehyde. Fragile butterflies, a diamond-encrusted skull and thick crusts of dead flies. British artist Damien Hirst puts beauty and brutality, nature and art, life and death into focus.
Death and love
A key work in the Damien Hirst hall is the sculpture Love’s Paradox (surrender or autonomy, separateness as a precondition for connection). Two half cows have been placed in their own formaldehyde tank so that you come face to face with death while studying each aspect of the animal’s anatomy. But death is not the only thing you face. If you stand between the separated cows, you stand between the connection and the separation – love’s paradoxical conditions.
The majority of Damien Hirst works in ARKEN consists of a generous donation from The Merla Art Foundation, which was founded in London by Dennis and Jytte Merla Dresing. Hirst’s gigantic ‘spot painting’ has been specially created for this hall as part of the donation.
About Damien Hirst
Damien Hirst often breaks our boundaries when interpreting existential topics in his works. He goads us to think about life and how art works. He challenges our fascination for death, our fear of the body’s decay and our desire for a long and healthy life.
Hirst represents an attention-seeking style and he has a great deal in common with pop stars and actors. He pursues a mass production strategy and, as such, has designed both fashion clothes and album covers, among others. He alternately highlights and downplays his seriousness as an artist – equivocal, sincere and brimming with sarcasm.
Born 1965 in Bristol, UK.
Lives and works in Devon, outside London.
Educated at Goldsmiths College, London.
Curated the famous exhibition “Freeze” (1988) in London’s Docklands that marked the launch of the YBA (Young British Artists), which dominated the British contemporary art scene in the 1990s.
Supported by advertising guru Charles Saatchi, who bought Hirst’s first famous work The Impossibility of Death in the Mind of Someone Living (1991), a tiger shark in formaldehyde.
Hirst designed the Pharmacy restaurant in London, which is designed just like a pharmacy.
Received the 1995 Turner prize.
He has held numerous exhibitions all over the world.
More works by Damien Hirst
SEE MORE PIECES IN ARKENs COLLECTION
EVA STEEN CHRISTENSEN
Where do you come from? Perhaps you’ll get to know more about your own culture if you let the palm of your hand slide over the sandblasted pattern on Eva Steen Christensen’s marble sculpture.
Can bad taste be great art? Anselm Reyle wraps himself in lushness on the borderline between seductive bling and sophisticated beauty.
Elmgreen & Dragset
A boy on a rocking-horse waves a welcome on ARKEN’s forecourt. Elmgreen & Dragset’s equestrian statue pays tribute to play and fantasy rather than victory and power.
Erect, immobile and alone. What can Antony Gormley’s sculpture be on the lookout for?