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  • Provenance

    White Cube, London

  • Catalogue Essay

    "I remember thinking, that idea of flies landing in the paint again. Just that kind of idea. When you look at the fly thing, when the flies are in there, when they build up they become this kind of blackness." (Damien Hirst in conversation with Mirta D'Argenzio ‘Like People, Like Flies' in Damien Hirst, Naples, 2004, p. 86)
    Concerned with the themes of life and death, Damien Hirst's painterly oeuvre examines the ideas of transience through a variety of media. In the present lot, Hirst engages with the notion of ‘Black Matter' to explore the aforementioned subjects, whilst in addition using one of art history's most poignant insects to comment on the topic of death.
    "The theme of the monochrome, fundamental in the history of modernism in painting, is revisited through the creation of black paintings, made from the concentration of thousands of dead flies glued to each other and to the canvas, and which seems in the end to decay into putrid meal." (M. Codognato, Damien Hirst, Museo Archelogico Nazionale Napoli, Naples, 2005, p. 42)

  • 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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219

Smallpox

2003
Flies and resin on canvas.
137.2 x 101.6 cm. (54 x 40 in).
Signed ‘Damien Hirst’ on a label adhered to the reverse.

Estimate
£200,000 - 300,000 ‡ ♠

Sold for £229,250

Contemporary Art Evening Sale

29 June 2008, 5pm
London