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  • Provenance

    RS&A Ltd, London

  • Exhibited

    London, Gilbert Collection, Somerset House, The Art of Chess, June 28 - September 28 2003
    New York, Luhring Augustine and RS&A Ltd, The Art of Chess, October 28 – December 23, 2005 (another example exhibited)
    Moscow, Gary Tatintsian Gallery, The Art of Chess, April 13 – May 15, 2006

  • Literature

    “BritArt’s Hirst knocks off his spots and goes for a square”, The Independent, London, June 9, 2003
    R. Allison, “Artists put a different slant on chess”, The Guardian, London, June 9, 2003
    “That’s not a pawn, is it?”, The Guardian,London, June 26, 2003
    “Grandmaster Flash”, Design Week, London, July 3, 2003
    T. White, “Games People Play: Chessmen for the rich”, The Independent on Sunday, London, July 20, 2003
    R. Cork, “Impossible Rules”, Newstatesman, London, July 21, 2003
    “The Art of Chess Exhibition”, British Chess Magazine, (, London, September 2, 2003
    V. Pazukov and V. Pukemova, The Art of Chess, Moscow, 2006, pp. 12-13 (illustrated)

  • Catalogue Essay

    Damien Hirst's chess set, Mental Escapology, continues the artist's fascination with the classic themes of life and death. It is made up of glass vs. silver casts of medicine bottles with altered and etched silver labels: K-night, Castle tablets, Queen ER and the like. The glass and mirrored board, placed on a free-standing surgical trolley, displays the biohazard symbol, in between the posts for the players. Hirst’s trademark vitrine, featured in this work as the mounted medicine cabinet holding captured pieces, revives his famous Pharmaceuticals theme.

    This work, commissioned by RS & A Ltd. of London, is part of a group of five chess sets designed by other leading contemporary artists including Maurizio Cattelan, Rachel Whiteread, Jack and Dinos Chapman, Paul McCarthy, and Yayoi Kusama. The commission, in conjunction with The Art of Chess exhibition first viewed at the Gilbert Collection in London in 2003, commemorates Marcel Duchamp’s artistic legacy to the design of chess sets. Beginning in the 1920s Duchamp, so enamored with the game of chess, designed chess sets for his own erudition and public play. His contribution is echoed in the Hirst’s design, where the artistic style rules the game.

    “From my close contact with artists and chess players I have come to the personal conclusion that while all artists are not chess players, all chess players are artists.”
    Marcel Duchamp, Cazenovia, 1952

  • 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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Mental Escapology

Thirty-two piece chess set comprised of: cut glass and hallmarked English silver; surgical trolley and board comprised of: stainless steel and mirrored glass with black enamel inlay; two modified dentist chairs in white leather; cabinet comprised of: mirrored glass, wood and stainless steel.
Height of King: 7.5 in. (19 cm.) and height of Pawn: 2 1/8 in. (5.5 cm.); Board 34 5/8 x 29 1/8 x 29 1/8 in. (88 x 74 x 74 cm.); Cabinet 25 5/8 x 32 1/3 x 6 1/3 in. (65 x 82 x 16 cm.).
This work is from an edition of seven.

$350,000 - 450,000 

Sold for $408,000

Contemporary Art Part I

16 Nov 2006, 7pm
New York