Damien Hirst - 20th Century & Contemporary Art Day Sale London Thursday, March 8, 2018 | Phillips

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  • Provenance

    Private Collection, London (gifted by the artist)

  • Catalogue Essay

    Playfully composed and bursting with colour, Damien Hirst’s Beautiful Ataguju Abreaction Painting for Mark (with Diamonds) is a truly celebratory demonstration of the possibilities of paint. A vibrant example from the artist’s iconic series of Spin Paintings, it is the first time the work has been seen at auction, gifted directly from the artist to the present owner. Harmoniously combining Hirst’s renowned skull motif with his circular shaped canvases, the present work displays the full potential of the artist’s famed series. The central skull emerges out of the striking combination of blue and purple splashes that pop against bright reds and vivid greens, celebrating Hirst’s technical achievements and commanding a visually arresting viewing experience.

    Specific to the present canvas from 2011 is the adoption of the skull motif combined with an array of diamonds that are carefully splayed across the painting. The inclusion of the memento mori has consistently frequented Hirst’s oeuvre; the artist’s interest in the associations of life and death has long been a theme in his art. The present work similarly draws upon aspects of Hirst’s prolific work, Beautiful Inside my Head Forever (2207), a skull covered in 8,601 flawless diamonds. The theme of mortality lies at the very core of the artist’s Spin Paintings; Hirst experiments with visually embodying the cyclical nature of life and death as well as the randomness of natural occurrence. Within the present work, the bright and bold palette is juxtaposed with Hirst’s image of death, conveying a humorous attitude and childlike innocence to the uncomfortable and foreboding prospect of death.

    In 1992, following his shortlist for the Turner Prize and his inclusion in Charles Saatchi’s Young British Artists exhibition, Hirst created his first Spin painting. The following year he set up a stall with his fellow artist Angus Fairhurst at the artist-led street fair, A Féte Worse than Death, whereby the duo experimented with the Spin aesthetic. From this point onwards the Spin Paintings would become one of Hirst’s most celebrated series and the artist has consistently revisited this energetic method of production. Hirst explains the simplicity of their appeal: ‘I really like making them. And I really like the machine, and I really like the movement. Every time they’re finished, I’m desperate to do another one’ (Damien Hirst, quoted in, Damien Hirst and Gordon Burn, On the Way to Work, London, 2001, p. 221). Juxtaposing the artist’s meticulously crafted Spot Paintings, Hirst achieves his explosion of colours by pouring paint from height onto the large canvas while it is rotated at high speed by a machine in his studio. The artist has cited a variety of inspirational sources for his instantly recognisable series, from Marcel Duchamp’s optical experiments created using rotating machine references to Blue Peter – the British children’s television programme that he watched during the 1970s. Incorporating the fundamental anxieties of human existence, Hirst’s canvas courses with vital energy, forcing the viewer to face the idea of mortality face on.

  • 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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Beautiful Ataguju Abreaction Painting for Mark (with Diamonds)

signed, titled, dedicated and dated '2011 Thank you man!!! For Mark [heart] Damien Hirst "Beautiful Ataguji Abreaction Painting for Mark (with Diamonds)"' on the reverse; further signed 'D Hirst' on the stretcher
Cubic zirconia and household gloss on canvas
diameter 121.9 cm (48 in.)
Executed in 2011.

£120,000 - 180,000 

Sold for £187,500

Contact Specialist
Tamila Kerimova
Specialist, Head of Day Sale
+ 44 20 7318 4065

20th Century & Contemporary Art Day Sale

London Auction 9 March 2018