Damien Hirst - Contemporary Art Evening Sale London Wednesday, February 13, 2013 | Phillips

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  • Provenance

    Acquired directly from the artist
    Private Collection, Transylvania
    Christie’s London, ‘Sale of Post-War and Contemporary Art’, 5 February 2004, lot 217
    Acquired from the above sale by the present owner

  • Exhibited

    New York, Gagosian Gallery, The Complete Spot Paintings 1986-2011, 12 January–18 February 2012

  • Catalogue Essay

    From curating the exhibition Freeze in 1988 and establishing the solo auction of his own work Beautiful Inside My Head Forever in 2008, all the way to his major Tate Modern retrospective in 2012, Damien Hirst has become one of the most influential artists of his generation. Hirst’s talent for being an entrepreneur is undoubtedly a large part of his success. Like many of the artists that today are associated with the YBAs (Young Brutish Artists), Hirst started out his highly successful career as a graduate of Goldsmiths College in London in the late 1980s.

    During Hirst’s second year at Goldsmiths, he assembled his first Medicine Cabinet Sinner (1988). The cabinet marked a time when Hirst wanted to paint but was unable to produce anything decent. “… in painting I’d get lost: I had no formal devices to help me out. One problem I always had was colour” (Damien Hirst, exh. cat., London, Tate, 2012, p. 93). Hirst began to compose the cabinets in a painterly manner by selecting the medicine boxes for their colour and size. The advantage of the cabinet shelves was that they imposed a structure to the artwork that gave Hirst the necessary formal tool.

    It was only shortly after the first Medicine Cabinet that Hirst painted the first of what must be one of the most widely recognized works in contemporary art today – his Spot Paintings. The set layout of the spots followed exactly the same notion of structure as the Cabinets; however, now Hirst could not hide the fact that he was arranging colour anymore. He committed fully to paintings in the way that it now was all about colour and composition. As Hirst has said about the Spot Paintings, “I just wanted things that were irresistible, things that you couldn’t ignore, things that you couldn’t avoid and you couldn’t challenge” (Damien Hirst, 2012, p. 92). Indeed, Hirst had created something utterly provocative and unavoidable with his vibrant Spots.

    “Yeah, the first [Spot Painting] on canvas absolutely changed my world. I’d looked at this stuff, like Conceptual art, but it was the first time I had clarity in some way. The thing that was causing me problems in painting was colour, finding a structure where I could lay it down, be in control of it rather than it controlling me. Once I’d done that, I didn’t really have problems with colour anymore.” (Damien Hirst, 2012, p. 91) At the time of the first Spot Paintings, Hirst was looking at Minimalism. He was intrigued by these minimal forms because they also were unavoidable and at the same time deeply irresistible. “I was totally into Minimalism probably before I was into Conceptual art – Donald Judd and Sol Lewitt and all those guys. I loved Minimalism because it was everything I wasn’t as a human being …” (Damien Hirst, 2012, p. 93). But soon he became bored and then even frustrated by the meaningless of Minimalism; Damien’s response were the Spot Paintings.

    In early 2012, Hirst exhibited over 300 Spot Paintings at once across all of Gagosian Gallery’s eleven locations worldwide. Spanning 25 years, The Complete Spot Paintings 1986-2011 fulfilled the artist’s long-standing dream to show all the Spots simultaneously.

  • 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 2 (Spot Painting)

household gloss on canvas
91.4 x 91.4 cm (35 7/8 x 35 7/8 in)
Signed ‘Damien Hirst’ on the reverse.

£300,000 - 500,000 ‡ ♠

Sold for £295,250

Contemporary Art Evening Sale

14 February 2013