Damien Hirst - 20th c. & Contemporary Art Day Sale, Afternoon Session New York Thursday, July 2, 2020 | Phillips

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  • Essay

    The spin paintings gather and amalgamate the individuality of every individual color … to become pure expression of the basic and vital gesture of paintings and its mythology”

    Damien Hirst





    detail of the present lot

    Beautiful, Flaming Lips Day, Form of a Shell Painting, 2010 is a monumental canvas by Damien Hirst from his psychedelic Spin series, a dynamic body of work that pays homage to the active brushwork of abstract painting through modern technology and practice. Hirst first experimented with spin paintings in Brixton in 1992, the same year he received his first nomination for the prestigious Turner Prize. The following year, Hirst and fellow artist Angus Fairhurst set up a stall at the artist-led street fair A Fête Worse than Death, inviting patrons to create their own spin paintings to be signed by the pair for only a pound. By 1994, Hirst officially began his iconic Spin Paintings by throwing vibrantly colored paint on circular-shaped canvases placed on a rapidly moving spin machine. When asked to comment on the works, the artist explained, “You can’t make a bad one. Why bother with all that angst? You can’t argue with it; you can only change scale. You still make artistic decisions … But a twelve foot diameter painting is awesome.”[i]

    Beautiful, Flaming Lips Day, Form of a Shell Painting stands out from the series, not only for its phenomenal scale, but also for its unique title and story. In keeping with most of Hirst’s Spin paintings, the present work is titled starting with “Beautiful” and ending in “painting”, however, this work specifically evokes the artist’s passion for rock music.  A cacophony of turquoise, red and yellow that pulsate with spontaneity, Beautiful, Flaming Lips Day, Form of a Shell Painting takes its title from the renowned rock band of the same name. While on tour in the UK, the band was invited to Hirst’s studio after a concert to splatter their own Spin painting, which now decorates the ceiling of Delo Creative, a production house that works closely with the band. Aptly, Beautiful, Flaming Lips Day, Form of a Shell Painting was gifted by the artist to the current owner who, like Hirst, is a celebrated patron of both the performing and visual arts.


    A painting by Damien Hirst and the Flaming Lips being unrolled and installed on the ceiling of the Womb, Oklahoma City. Photo by Mary Beth Babcock, Artwork ©  2020 Damien Hirst

    As a founding member of  the Young British Artists collective, Hirst utilizes unconventional techniques representing the revolutionary attitude of the movement. Rather than adhering to traditional and methodical brushwork by hand, The Spin series is characterized by the chaotic combination of Hirst’s own body movements when throwing the pigment and the machinery’s rapid rotations, resulting in a stunning vortex of vitality. In Beautiful, Flaming Lips Day, Form of a Shell Painting, Hirst advances the revolutionary action painting techniques developed by Jackson Pollock by placing scale at the forefront and utilizing his body as the method and impulse as the intention. Hirst notes, “I believe that after Pollock created a distance between the brush and the canvas by flinging the paint, there was nowhere to go with painting…but people still make action paintings. The urge to be a painter is still there even if the process of painting is meaningless.”[i]

    [i]Damien Hirst, quoted in an interview with Stuart Morgan, Damien Hirst, New York, 1996

    [ii]Damien Hirst, quoted in Damien Hirst and Robert Violette, eds., I Want to Spend the Rest of My Life Everywhere, with Everyone, One to One, Always, Forever, Now, London, 1997, p. 246


  • Video

    • Provenance

      Gifted by the artist to the present owner

    • 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.

      View More Works

Property from a Private Collection, Taos


Beautiful, Flaming Lips Day, Form of a Shell Painting

signed "Damien Hirst" on a label affixed to the reverse
household gloss on canvas
diameter 144 in. (365.8 cm)
Executed in 2010.

Full Cataloguing

$400,000 - 600,000 

Sold for $399,000

Contact Specialist

Rebekah Bowling
Head of Day Sale, Afternoon Session
New York

1 212 940 1250

20th c. & Contemporary Art Day Sale, Afternoon Session

New York Auction 2 July 2020