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  • Provenance

    Tanya Bonakdar Gallery, New York

  • Literature

    G. Burn and D. Hirst, I want to spend the rest of my life everywhere, with everyone, one to one, always, forever, now, London, 1997, p. 220 (illustrated)

  • Catalogue Essay

    "Obscenity begins when there is no more spectacle, no more stage, no more theatre, no more illusions, when everything becomes immediately transparent, visible, exposed in the raw and inexorable light of information and communication.
    We no longer partake of the drama of alienation, but are in the ecstasy of communication. And this ecstasy is obscene. Obscene is that which eliminates the gaze, the image and every representation. Obscenity is not confined to sexuality, because today there is a pornography of information and communication, a pornography of circuits and networks, of functions and objects and their legibility, availability, regulation, forced signification, capacity to perform, connection, polyvalence, their free expression…
    It is no longer the obscenity of the hidden, the repressed, the obscure, but that of the visible, the all-too-visible, the more-visible-than-visible; it is the obscenity of that which no longer contains a secret and is entirely soluble in information and communication."  (J. Baudrillard, as translated by B. and C. Schutze, The Ecstasy of Communication, Paris, 1988, pp. 21-22) 
    Damien Hirst’s sculptures simultaneously embody two of the most prescient categorical desires of the 20th and early 21st centuries: the hunger for authenticity and titillation at being granted access to the forbidden, in both cases if only voyeuristically. In the present lot we are invited by the artist – for the first time, in the case of Untitled aaaa – behind the pharmacist’s high counter and given unfettered access to the most powerful potions of human design.The medicine cabinet is a litany of solution for woes that lay beyond the reach of science for much of history: these bottles and boxes, faithfully reproduced, are a master control panel for our whole personae, both physio- and psychologically. Pain? Sadness? Hirst’s cabinet has something for that. The capacity to mediate or mollify infection and trauma alike lie encapsulated, safely contained in sanitary order.
    Our experience of – or with – power of this magnitude is typically mediated several times over, and each of the gatekeeper’s first responsibility, to do no harm, removes our blithe agency from the equation in the first place. The pharmacist dispenses what the doctor has decreed we require, in reality, but in Hirst’s reconception all the magic of science is placed back in the viewer’s hands, ideologically, and we are freed to modulate our experience on every sensory level. This empowerment and access is embodied physically in the glittering neutrality of the glass and reflective steel of the case itself, while the opacity of the containers inside – to protect their contents and to protect us from their contents, each in turn – gives visual substance to the intangible emotion and sensation that constitute all experience. The whole of the present lot, then, becomes a scrim with the signified emotional and perceptual access contained within projected onto the form of the work itself. This sort of reflexivity has figure prominently in the work of other artists from the “Young British” school, in particular Sarah Lucas andTracey Emin, but these artists have most frequently chose signifiers of degradation and personal insult – see the devastated beer cans, cigarette butts, or disheveled bedsteads figured prominently in their separate oeuvres – whereas Hirst reifies our remedies and tonics. The encasement of these and other sorts of solutions, and the implied consecration of their effect, suspended permanently on view, characterizes much of the artist’s sculptural output.
    S.O.: Maybe Marx was wrong. Maybe opiates are the opiate of the masses.
    D.H.: Too right, mate.
    (S. O’hagan, in conversation with D. Hirst, from P. Stolper, New Religion, London, 2006, p. XV)

  • 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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Untitled aaaa


Cardboard boxes, plastic and glass drug bottles, MDF, steel, and glass.

24 1/4 x 40 x 9 in. (61.6 x 101.6 x 22.9 cm).

$800,000 - 1,200,000 

Contemporary Art Part I

15 May 2008, 7pm
New York