Damien Hirst - 20th Century & Contemporary Art Evening Sale London Monday, February 8, 2016 | Phillips

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  • Provenance

    White Cube, London
    Acquired from the above by the present owner

  • Exhibited

    Beverly Hills, Damien Hirst: The Complete Spot Paintings 1986-2011, Gagosian Gallery, 12 January-10 February 2012.

  • Literature

    D. Hirst, The Complete Spot Paintings 1986-2011, London: Other Criteria, 2013, p. 438 (illustrated)

  • Catalogue Essay

    Painted in 2007, Hydrastinine belongs to the Pharmaceutical Paintings, series which began during his second year as a student at Goldsmiths Art School. The first Spot Paintings were created for the Freeze exhibition (1988), which Hirst organised with other members of the YBA movement.

    Hydrastinine is a neat table of meticulously painted dots, all the same in size and equally far away from one another; encompassing different colours, uniformly arranged on an immaculate white canvas. Repetition underlines a motif of obsession, also present in the paintings of Ellsworth Kelly and Gerhard Richter, or in the case of Yayoi Kusama, whose dots express mental fixation. In Hirst’s case, the Spot Paintings reveal a constant obsession in line with the core of his practice, mass-production. They are a container for colour, as much as his medicine-cabinets contain pills, or his vitrines animals. ‘You take all the colour out of a situation, because it’s getting in your way, and you bang it into the Spot Paintings. And then you deal with the objects and everything else separately. And that’s who I am. Totally. That’s what I do. The colour gets in my way. So I take it out and put it in the spots’ (The artist quoted in Damien Hirst and Gordon Burn, On the Way to Work, London, Universe Publishing, 2002, p.125).

    The present lot, like the other works of the Pharmaceutical series, takes its title after all the names of medicines listed in Biochemical, Organic Compounds for Research and Diagnostic Reagents, a manual published by the Sigma Chemical Company. Hirst has always been interested in comparing art with medicine: since 1988, he has analysed the complexity of human nature by reflecting upon the boundaries between art and science. The apparent casual selection of colours in Hydrastinine conceals a structure similar to that of a molecule, which thus offers a visual composition made of order and formal perfection.

  • 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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household gloss on canvas
254 x 294.6 cm (100 x 115 7/8 in.)
Signed, titled and dated 'Damien Hirst "Hydrastinine" 2007' on the reverse; further signed twice 'Damien Hirst' and studio stamped on the stretcher bars.

£500,000 - 700,000 ‡ ♠

Sold for £602,500

Contact Specialist
Peter Sumner
Head of Contemporary Art, London

+44 207 318 4063

20th Century & Contemporary Art Evening Sale

London Auction 9 February 2016 7pm