Beautiful Big, Beyond Belief Tasteful Party Painting V

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  • Provenance

    White Cube, London
    Private Collection

  • Catalogue Essay

    “The Spin Paintings gather and amalgamate the individuality of every individual colour, introducing a mechanical rotating movement at the moment of execution, to make the colours participate in a primordial state, where order and creation dissolve and disengage from the mediation of thought and representation, to become pure expression of the basic and vital gesture of painting and its mythology.” (Mario Codognato in ‘Warning Labels’, in Damien Hirst, exh. cat., Naples, Museo Archeological Nazionale, 2004, p. 42)

    After nearly a quarter of a century from when he first entered public consciousness, Damien Hirst has become one of the most influential artists of his generation. Hirst’s output is prolific, and diverse in its use of varied mediums and artistic techniques. Linking his varied works, however, is the consistent reference to and examination of the fundamental issue of human experience – love and hate, life and death, fantasy and fear. By creating series of works, Hirst reflects on human’s desire to theoretically override death by the implication of endlessness. Hirst’s work does not impose these theories on the viewer, but cleverly encourages the onlooker to reexamine his or her personal existence in relation to the relevant surrounding environment.

    Although employing a wide range of methods, Hirst’s oeuvre is characteristically controlled and organised. Animals are aligned in the Natural History series, for example, and spacing between the spots in the Spot Paintings is precisely measured. The Spin Paintings, in which category the current lot falls, are an anomaly in their loose expressiveness. Apparently inspired by childhood memories of seeing paintings made at school fetes and watching Blue Peter on television, Hirst began the series in the early 1990s. He completed his first work Beautiful Ray of Sunshine on a Rainy Day Painting and Beautiful Where Did All the Colour Go Painting, in 1992 and the following year set up a spin art stall with his fellow artist Angus Fairhurst at Joshua Compston’s artist-led street fair, A Fete Worse than Death. While living in Berlin in 1994, Hirst commissioned the manufacture of a spin machine, and thereafter began to seriously develop the series.

    The spin machine disperses paint centrifugally as it is steadily poured onto the shaped canvas surface. These mechanically-made works stand as testament to a theme that is intrinsic to Hirst’s work, namely the individual artist’s hand versus factory production. But with Hirst, of course, it is never that simple. The artist employs factory production to emphasize the dissimilarity and divide between labour and concept. The factory makes the works but never produces the ideas. The movement of the machine also provides Hirst with pleasure – “Every time they’re finished, I’m desperate to do another one” (the artist, in Damien Hirst and Gordon Burn, On the Way to Work, 2001, p. 221). Whilst looking back to Warhol’s factory-like production process, Hirst’s Spin series also mimics the expression of Jackson Pollock’s action paintings. Hirst faces the mythology of painting straight on, taking what was thought as wholly expressive and adapting it to become another postmodern motif ready to appropriate.

    The Spin series works are distinguished by their elongated playful titles that start with ‘Beautiful’ and end with ‘Painting’. In between, there is an abundance of adjectives containing a rhythm that follows the rotation, emphasizing the kinetic energy of the works.

    The current painting is unusual amongst the series for its muted tonal range and chiefly brown palette. Far from gaiety, the work alludes to darkness and danger. The inky blue paint and fragments of glass piercing the surface, appear to be part of an ominous celestial scene such as an apocalyptic explosion. Beautiful Big, Beyond Belief Tasteful Party Painting V balances sublime spectacle with allegories of mortality, resurrecting Hirst’s fascination with the transience of human life.

  • Artist Bio

    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.

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Beautiful Big, Beyond Belief Tasteful Party Painting V

household gloss paint, glass, mirror, razor blades, glitter, diamond dust and gold on canvas
diameter: 213.4 cm (84 in)

£250,000 - 350,000 ‡ ♠

Contemporary Art Evening

28 June 2012