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  • Provenance

    Gagosian Gallery, Beverly Hills

  • Exhibited

    Gagosian Gallery, Damien Hirst: Superstition, Beverly Hills, February 22 - April 5, 2007

  • Literature

    M. Willner, ed., Damien Hirst: Superstition, London, 2007, pp. 32-33, 170 (illustrated)

  • Catalogue Essay

    The butterfly, in many cultures, symbolizes beauty, love, change, and evolution in its most basic physiological state. The image of the butterfly has been venerated visually for both its beauty and its symbolic reference to the process of growth. This metamorphosis begins with an egg which hatches into a caterpillar which then grows and develops into a butterfly. Through this transformation the process of life begins. In some cultures the connotation of the butterfly is more symbolic with profound spiritual and religious meaning. Some 3,500 years ago in Thebes, today's Luxor Egyptian hieroglyphics depicted butterflies in tombs for their beauty are rarity in Egypt. In ancient Greek the word for butterfly is "psyche" which means "soul,” and was also the name of Eros’ lover, the Greek goddess of beauty Psyche. Often when the two figures are depicted they are surrounded by butterflies. In Mexico the butterfly is seen as a soul, and it is to a small town that the monarch butterflies migrate every year on and around the holiday known as the Day of the Dead. They are seen as the returned souls of the deceased. The Native Americans believe if you whisper a secret to a butterfly and release it, your wish will be carried to the Great Spirit. The act of releasing this butterfly from captivity is what will help restore the balance with nature and your wish will be granted.
    Damien Hirst, an international art superstar, gained this recognition through works using taxidermy animals such as sheep, pigs, sharks, and butterflies as the main focus of some of his most notable and successful works.  Death is a central theme in many of Hirst's works. When using these animals in his pieces Hirst explores the mortality of not just these particular beings but mortality as a whole.  Works such as The Physical Impossibility of Death in the Mind of Someone Living (a shark floating in formaldehyde) directly confront the viewer with their own mortality.  Similarly, the butterflies affixed to the canvas are the beauty of life frozen in death.
    His first butterfly paintings were exhibited in 1991 at the Woodstock Gallery in London. This exhibition was his first solo show and titled In and Out of Love. For his solo show he filled the gallery with live butterflies, many of which generated from those attached to his monochromatic canvases with gloss household paint. Hirst created an incubator within the gallery, transforming it into an artificial environment wherein the cycle of life and death coexisted with the exhibiting of living and dead insects together. The idea of observing mortality and life would consistently be an important theme in most of his work moving forward. The present piece, Since the Majority of me Rejects the Majority of You-Vision, 2006, was created more than a decade after the first series of butterfly paintings was exhibited. In this piece the actual butterflies are carefully arranged in gloss household paint as Hirst elaborates on the motif of the butterfly as a symbol of beauty, the inherent fragility of life, and radiance. Similar to his previous works, Hirst has approached the idea of existence and being in a very direct and confrontational manner. This arouses aesthetics and our awareness about the lines of separation between life and death and love and hate by immortalizing these butterflies and giving them the potential to live on forever.
    The vibrant display of color and flow of the placement of butterflies shimmers and glows as if lit from within the canvas, resembling the Rosace windows found in the Rayonnant Period of Gothic architecture. In the world’s oldest churches, eternity is explored through religious depictions done in centuries old tradition of stained glass craftsmanship. Hirst uses tools and iconography of religion to create this piece, so it is no coincidence that these butterflies glow and glisten like the Rosace of Notre Dame. The classic shape of this piece, composition, and symmetry of the butterflies take their inspiration from stained glass church windows. The title of the piece is two-parted; the first part coming from the poems in Philip Larkin’s collection High Windows, and the second making direct reference to religious iconography. Perhaps one of the best examples of stained glass is the windows of Notre Dame.  The rose windows in particular; the fine detail of the rose window in the north transept of Paris' Notre-Dame, c. 1255, with 80 Old Testament scenes centered on the Virgin and the large rose window in the south transept depicts Christ surrounded by apostles, martyrs, the wise and foolish virgins, and the story of Matthew. Similar to Hirst’s work, the rose window depictions are a symbol of eternity and religious iconography and a story which is carried out within the glass.
    Although Hirst has a different story playing out within his piece, the eternal symbolism is still there. His fascination with mortality and the belief that art is the only thing truly eternal, not religion or medicine, is implicit when considering this work. Within this piece he attempts to capture something timeless in a work of art. There is an unavoidable religious connotation in Hirst's use of butterflies which symbolizes the life cycle and, in –Visions, mortality. He notes, "I didn't want to believe in God. But I suddenly realized that my belief in art is really similar to believing in God." His sense of faith in art comes through in his work, which, though subversive, is built on a belief of forwarding art, not jaded contempt for it.

  • 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.

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Since the Majority of Me Rejects the Majority of You – Vision


Butterflies and gloss household paint on canvas.

Diameter: 72 in. (182.9 cm).

Signed, titled, and dated “Damien Hirst ‘Vision’ 2006” on the reverse.

$1,500,000 - 2,000,000 

Sold for $1,609,000

Contemporary Art Part I

15 May 2008, 7pm
New York