Damien Hirst - Contemporary Art Evening Sale New York Thursday, May 15, 2014 | Phillips

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  • Provenance

    White Cube Gallery, London

  • Exhibited

    New York, Sotheby's, Divine Comedy, September 30 - October 19, 2010

  • Literature

    Divine Comedy, exh. cat., Sotheby's , New York, 2010, pp. 164-165 (illustrated)

  • Catalogue Essay

    “When you’re making an artwork, there’s an idea and you play around with it and then it comes to life.”

    DAMIEN HIRST, 2007

    After a number of flies in Damien Hirst’s studio found themselves stuck to the surface of his primed canvases, Hirst took this visual cue one step further by scattering butterflies—a much more elegant insect—to his household gloss canvases. As Hirst explains, “I want it to look like an artist’s studio where he had colored canvases wet and the butterflies had landed in them... This idea of an artist trying to make a monochrome and being fucked up by flies landing in the paint... Then you get the beauty of the butterfly, but it is actually something horrible... The death of an insect that still has this really optimistic beauty of a wonderful thing.” (Damien Hirst in Damien Hirst, exh.cat., Naples, 2004, p. 83)

    In the present lot the butterflies are set against a pale blue sky and puffy white clouds: “I don’t want it to look like a kind of oil-painted beautiful sky that’s been created. If you use it, thick gloss paint really does, in a very sculptural way, start to form fucking clouds. I want it to look like an accident of gloss paint with butterflies stuck on it.” (Damien Hirst in Damien Hirst and Gordon Burn, “On the Way to Work” Faber and Faber, 2001, p. 133) Captured mid-flight, the butterflies are placed in a way that is sometimes unpredictable; Hirst let the insects float upon the wet gloss paint and be absorbed naturally into the composition. The butterfly, an evasive insect with fragile and colorful wings, retains the essence of its beautiful short life even in its eternal death. Often a symbol for the soul, the butterfly, for Hirst, is the epitome of love and beauty and of the delicate world in which we exist.

  • 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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Summer in Siam

butterflies, household gloss on canvas, framed
60 x 60 in. (152.4 x 152.4 cm.)
Inscribed and numbered "DHS 485" along the stretcher.

$600,000 - 800,000 

Sold for $461,000

Contact Specialist
Zach Miner
Head of Sale
+1 212 940 1256

Contemporary Art Evening Sale

New York Auction 15 May 2014 7PM