Damien Hirst - Contemporary Art Evening Sale London Friday, October 12, 2007 | Phillips

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  • Provenance

    Gagosian Gallery, London

  • Catalogue Essay

    "I see every spot within each painting as being alone yet together with all the other spots; I can find the pieces sad or happy, or even dumb. I think I’ll always make them. Each painting is named after a drug alphabetically but I probably won’t keep doing it alphabetically. It feels a bit restricting. And they’re a bit childish-a bit like sweets (smarties) or drugs. I had my stomach pumped as a child because I ate pills thinking they were sweets. So did my brother."
    (D. Hirst, I want to spend the rest of my life elsewhere, with everyone, one to one, always, forever, now., London, 2006)

    With a calculated blend of satire, cynicism and grandiosity, Damien Hirst’s "Spot Paintings" are loaded with questions and insinuations that are abstracted through his multi-coloured and perfectly aligned dots.The compositions assume precise titles of prescription medical drugs, incorporating Hirst's imaginative interpretation of the colours found on the Periodic Table of Elements and the molecular structure of atoms.

    Conceptually Hirst explores the idea of faith in medicine, questioning its truthfulness and ability to mislead. As Hirst proclaims, "Art is like medicine - it can heal. Yet I've always been amazed at how many people believe in medicine, but don't believe in art, without questioning either."(R. Violet, ed., I want to Spend the Rest of My Life Elsewhere, with Everyone, One to One, Always, Forever, Now., London, 1997, n.p.). Hirst's reference to prescription drugs brings to mind the mortality we cannot disregard despite mankind's overwhelmingly devout determination in the power of medicine. The artist reminds us that we are, after all, mortal.

    Arranged Mathematically in a grid, Diethylene Glycol combines appearance and content into one large scale field of colour that is contrasted against a stark white background. The relationship between colour and emotional response as a possible therapeutic concept is fundamental in understanding this body of work. Looking back to major 20th Century artists and their styles, such as Kandinsky’s symphonies on colour, Barnett Newman’s colour field paintings and Pollock or Rothko’s representation of psychological turmoil through colour, Hirst’s "Spot Paintings" demonstrate that any geometric arrangement of colour can have a pleasing aesthetic impact on the mind. It is with this unique and individual quality of each spot, and the respective titles of the Spot Paintings that each work embodies the semiotic relationship between signified and signifier, between title and appearance – between "cause" and "cure". The Spot Paintings, as a result, are an important body of work within hirst's entire repertoire in which the artist confronts issues of life and death, while playing on the methodologies of formalism and iconography.

  • 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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Diethylene Glycol

Gloss household paint on canvas.
60 x 76 in. (152.4 x 193 cm).
Signed, titled, and dated “Damien Hirst Diethylene Glycol 2006” on the reverse.

£400,000 - 600,000 ‡♠

Sold for £636,000

Contemporary Art Evening Sale

Evening Sale
13 October 2007, 4pm