Damien Hirst - 20th Century & Contemporary Art Day Sale London Thursday, February 13, 2020 | Phillips

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  • Video

    Damien Hirst, 'AIDS', Lot 148

    20th Century & Contemporary Art Day Sale, 14 February

  • Provenance

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

  • Exhibited

    London, White Cube, Damien Hirst: Romance in the Age of Uncertainty, 10 September - 19 October 2003, pp. 26-27, 142 (illustrated, p. 26)
    Naples, Museo Archeologico Nazionale, Damien Hirst. The Agony and the Ecstasy: Selected Works from 1989-2004, 31 October 2004 - 31 January 2005, pp. 87-89, 254 (illustrated, pp. 87-89)

  • Catalogue Essay

    'You trick the viewer into thinking that you’re telling them something, but you’re revealing something that they already have. It’s like magic.' Damien Hirst

    AIDS is a powerful continuation and exploration of one of Hirst’s most significant preoccupations, the theme of Death and decay. Consciously rendered in proportions identical to Hirst’s seminal ‘Medicine Cabinets’ selected for the artist’s degree show in 1989, the work is comprised of thousands of black flies affixed to the surface of a canvas in a dense monochromatic blanket. AIDS belongs to a series of thirteen ‘Fly Paintings’ created for Hirst’s 2003 exhibition at White Cube: Romance in the Age of Uncertainty. Each canvas is titled after deadly diseases such as Smallpox, Leukaemia and Meningitis. The Fly Paintings’ medium directly references Hirst’s 1990 masterpiece A Thousand Years; which displays a cyclical representation of life and death through the glass vitrine containing a rotting cow’s head being slowly devoured a swarm of live flies, which in turn are dying one by one as a result of the Insect-O-Cutor and whose bodies litter the floor. Through the series incorporating AIDS, Hirst challenges the traditional notion of painting by utilising the powerful motif of the Fly and all of the meaning it conjures, as the sole medium for the painting.

  • 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

The Robert Tibbles Collection: Young British Artists & More



signed and inscribed 'Mathew Damien Hirst' on the reverse; further signed 'Damien Hirst' on a poem printed on paper affixed to the reverse
flies and resin on canvas, in artist's frame
overall 164.6 x 128.8 cm (64 3/4 x 50 3/4 in.)
Executed in 2003.

£80,000 - 120,000 

Sold for £106,250

Contact Specialist

Tamila Kerimova
Specialist, Head of Day Sale, Director, 20th Century & Contemporary Art

44 20 7318 4065

20th Century & Contemporary Art Day Sale

London Auction 14 February 2020