Damien Hirst - Contemporary Art Evening Sale London Wednesday, February 15, 2012 | Phillips

Create your first list.

Select an existing list or create a new list to share and manage lots you follow.

  • Provenance

    White Cube, London

  • Catalogue Essay

    “I can’t understand why some people believe completely in medicine but not in art, without questioning either.” (Damien Hirst, I want to spend the rest of my life everywhere, with everyone, one to one, always forever, now, London, 2005, p. 24)

    Damien Hirst is an artist renowned for his capacity to shock. Through recurrent themes of science, mortality, religion and beauty, Hirst has created a signature style that destabilises the comfort we seek in art, making us re-evaluate not only art’s role in our lives, but our entire outlook on life itself.

    The original male counterpart to Wretched War, Hymn, created in 1999–2000, featured a 20-foot anatomical model in painted bronze. Towering over us, akin to a bewildering religious monument, the sculpture raised powerful questions on our reliance on both science and religion – opposing outlooks that both offer reassurance to the faithful. As Western secular society turns more and more to a reliance on science in lieu of our past faith in religion, Hirst questions our innate dependency on external solace and meaning. Through the independent medium of art, such questions gain a powerful dimension, as sentiment collides with reason and our biases are exposed.

    A later development in the anatomical series, Wretched War again appropriates the anatomical model now in unpainted bronze, onto its equivalent: a pregnant, decapitated female. The ‘her’ to the artist’s Hymn, Wretched War mimics the ballet pose of Degas’ Little Dancer, alluding to a teenage pregnancy. The sacred image of mother and child appears like a victim of battle, the body scarred and flayed. Yet the striding pose appears strong and solid, the echoes of Degas overlaying an elegance and beauty which triumph frailty and decay. Wretched War reminds us that science alone cannot convey the overwhelming emotion and beauty of the human body, in all its wretched glory.

  • Artist Biography

    Damien Hirst

    British • 1965

    There is no other contemporary artist as maverick to the art market as Damien Hirst. Foremost among the Young British Artists (YBAs), a group of provocative artists who graduated from Goldsmiths, University of London in the late 1980s, Hirst ascended to stardom by making objects that shocked and appalled, and that possessed conceptual depth in both profound and prankish ways.

    Regarded as Britain's most notorious living artist, Hirst has studded human skulls in diamonds and submerged sharks, sheep and other dead animals in custom vitrines of formaldehyde. In tandem with Cheyenne Westphal, now Chairman of Phillips, Hirst controversially staged an entire exhibition directly for auction with 2008's "Beautiful Inside My Head Forever," which collectively totalled £111 million ($198 million).

    Hirst remains genre-defying and creates everything from sculpture, prints, works on paper and paintings to installation and objects. Another of his most celebrated series, the 'Pill Cabinets' present rows of intricate pills, cast individually in metal, plaster and resin, in sterilized glass and steel containers; Phillips New York showed the largest of these pieces ever exhibited in the United States, The Void, 2000, in May 2017.

    View More Works


Wretched War

158 × 70 × 86 cm (62 1/4 × 27 1/2 × 33 7/8 in).
Signed ‘Damien Hirst’ and numbered of 10 on the reverse of the base; further titled ‘Wretched War’ on the front of the base. This work is from an edition of 10.

£200,000 - 300,000 Ω ♠

Sold for £325,250

Contemporary Art Evening Sale

16 February 2012