Damien Hirst - Contemporary Art Evening Sale London Wednesday, February 15, 2012 | Phillips

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  • Provenance

    White Cube, London

  • Exhibited

    London, Tate Britain, In-A-Gadda-Da-Vida, 3 March–31 May 2004 (another example exhibited)
    Naples, Museo Archeologico Nazionale, The Agony and the Ecstasy: Selected Works from 1989–2004, 31 October 2004–31 January 2005
    Miami Beach, Bass Museum, Art Basel Outdoors Exhibition, 1 December–4 December 2011

  • Literature

    In-A-Gadda-Da-Vida, exh. cat., Tate Britain, London, 2004, pp. 78–79 (another example illustrated)
    The Agony and the Ecstasy: Selected Works from 1989–2004, exh. cat., Museo Archeologico Nazionale, Naples, 2004, pp. 46–47 (illustrated)

  • Catalogue Essay

    Throughout his controversial career, Damien Hirst has continually pushed the boundaries of art and science in his exploration of humanity. While Hirst’s paintings seemingly appropriate life through the representation of death or medicine, his sculptures often dwell on the harmony and integrity of human and animal anatomy, exploring the simplicity of its mechanics and the complexity of its perpetuation. Sensation, executed in 2003, is a powerful combination of these paradoxical concerns.

    The present lot is an oversized painted bronze sculpture based on an academic anatomical model, of the type most likely to be found in a school science laboratory. It depicts a cross-section of a chunk of human flesh, revealing the labyrinthine hidden workings of the body’s largest organ – the skin. This work follows on from Hymn, 1999–2000, which is similar in nature, although the subject matter is an anatomical model of a male figure said to have been based on his son’s Humbrol Young Scientist Anatomy Set, an educational toy designed by Norman Emms. Directly enlarging such an anatomical model undermines accepted concepts of figurative sculpture, as does the use of painted bronze. Bronze is freighted with connotations of traditional statuary, and to paint it goes against the art-historical norm, much as radically enlarging the proportions of an anatomical model goes against the scientific norm. Hirst sees the medium of painted bronze as being poised between painting and sculpture: neither a painting nor a sculpture, but a painted object. The delineated boundaries between painting and sculpture are broken down, so that both exist within a single work of art.

    “Hirst subverts the humanism and allegorical anthropomorphism of traditional sculpture, indicating and recalling with surgical precision what occurs continually and without knowing, within our body, exposed and in turn heedless to the ravages of history: cells that multiply and die, blood that flows, glands that secrete, lungs that exhale and inhale air, the liver that filters the spoils of the everyday hunt, white corpuscles that attack infection. All this occurs parallel to, and in the absence of, any respite from what is going on outside us and despite us. But at the same time, in an increasingly accelerated, technological, virtual, and robotized world, anatomical exposition re-solidifies reality around the verification of the senses, around error, around the degenerative aspect of the body. And, as in all Hirst’s work, it conveys, mirrors, and excavates life’s tortuous journey between fear and desire.” (Mario Codognato in Damien Hirst, exhibition catalogue, Museo Archelogico Nazionale Napoli, Naples, 2005, p. 46)

  • 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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Acrylic paint on bronze.
198.1 × 316.2 × 165.1 cm (77 7/8 × 124 1/2 × 65 in).
Signed ‘D. Hirst’ and numbered of 3 on the base. This work is from an edition of 3.

£350,000 - 450,000 ‡ ♠

Contemporary Art Evening Sale

16 February 2012