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  • Provenance

    A gift from the artist to the present owner

  • Literature

    Damien Hirst: The Complete Spot Paintings 1986 - 2011, exh. cat., Gagosian Gallery/Other Criteria, 2011, p. 705 (illustrated)

  • Catalogue Essay

    Initiated in 1986, Damien Hirst’s 'Spot Paintings' are among the most iconic of contemporary art. The first and largest of thirteen subsets, the 'Pharmaceutical Paintings' series has its genesis in a fascination with the dialogue between art and science. Hirst’s methodology is rigorous and his composition systematic: strict grid patterns define the positions of chromatic circles, which vary between works from one millimetre to sixty inches in diameter. ‘To create that structure, to do those colours, and do nothing. I suddenly got what I wanted. It was just a way of pinning down the joy of colour.’ (Damien Hirst in Damien Hirst and Gordon Burn, On the Way to Work, London: Faber and Faber, 2001, p. 119).

    As with the rest of the series, Phenylpropiolic Acid derives its title from the company catalogue of life sciences corporation Sigma-Aldrich. The 'Pharmaceutical Paintings' are blueprints, each a schematic document of the titular chemical’s atomic structure. Though the arrangements may appear random, they result from an exacting process, and each unique colour is born from a meticulous procedure of mixing household gloss paints. This disconnect between product and method creates a resonant conceptual tension, while the spots buzz with an unbridled visual delight. ‘If you look closely at any one of these paintings a strange thing happens: because of the lack of repeated colours, there is no harmony … So in every painting there is a subliminal sense of unease; yet the colours project so much joy it’s hard to feel it, but it’s there.’ (Damien Hirst, I want to spend the rest of my life everywhere, with everyone, one to one, always, forever, now, London: Booth-Clibborn Editions, 1997, p. 246). Brightly clinical and deceptively simple, Phenylpropiolic Acid is a triumph of design and spectacle that displays Hirst’s mastery of the human eye to thrilling effect.

  • 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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Phenylpropiolic Acid

household gloss on canvas
66.2 x 96.5 cm (26 1/8 x 37 7/8 in.)
Signed, titled and dated 'Damien Hirst "Phenylpropiolic Acid" 2010' on the reverse. Signed 'Damien Hirst' and studio stamped on the stretcher.

£100,000 - 150,000 ♠ †

Sold for £146,500

Contact Specialist
Peter Sumner
Head of Contemporary Art, London
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Contemporary Art Evening Sale

London 29 June 2015 7pm