Damien Hirst - Modern & Contemporary Art: Evening & Day Sale London Thursday, June 27, 2024 | Phillips
  • “[Hirst’s mandala paintings] are powerfully perverse […] in their insistence on the beauty made possible only by death.”
    —Rod Mengham
    Embodying the transient beauty of life, the motif of the butterfly has proved foundational to British artist Damien Hirst's practice, anchoring his investigations into systems of knowledge including religion, science, and myth. A sophisticated example of the artist's celebrated Mandala paintings, Creed adopts a mosiac arrangement, assembled with a luminous range of vivd purples, cobalt blue, yellows, and whites set against a turquoise gloss ground. The work refers back to the very outset of Hirst's career, butterflies being the focus of his debut solo exhibition In and Out of Love. Held over two floors in a former travel agency on Woodstock Street, London in 1991, Hirst’s original installation presented a dramatic and controversial staging of the life-cycle of the butterfly. On the ground floor, Hirst attached pupae to five white canvases, carefully timing the hatching for the exhibiton's opening, while downstairs the delicate bodies of expired butterflies were fixed across eight monochrome canvases. Trays of cigarette butts accompanied the series, juxtaposed with nourishing sugar water for the live specimens upstairs. An elegant symbol condensing Hirst's conflicted and complex feelings on mortality, the butterly combines beauty and decay alongside notions of resurrection and transcendence, a paradox succintly summarised by the artist's comment that ‘the death of an insect […] has this really optimistic beauty of a wonderful thing’.i


    Detail Of the present work

    In continuing his exploration of life and death, Hirst began his intricately patterned paintings using butterfly wings in 2001. Inspired by Victorian lepidopterologist’s arrangement of winged insects, the Kaleidoscope series foregrounded aesthetic concerns alongside the spiritual and philosophical potential of the butterfly. Associations between the butterfly and the transmigration of the soul have been well established across diverse belief systems and cultures, the mythological goddess of the soul - Psyche - even lending her name to the formal Greek term for the delicate creature. 


    As is evident across this series of works, the mimetic organisation, tondo format, translucency, and vivid hues of the present work recalls the stained-glass rose windows in Gothic cathedrals across Europe. Undoubtably derived from Hirst’s Catholic upbringing, the emphasis on symmetry and harmonised patterning might also remind the viewer of the mandala in religions like Hinduism and Buddhism, typically emblematic of the cosmos. As the mandala is used in meditative rituals, in Creed the composition centres on a single butterfly from which the pattern seems to emanate and shift before the viewer’s eyes, a process of looking that encourages introspection and self-reflection. The title itself has overt religious connotations, referencing short statements of faith passed through universal religions, Hirst evoking a mode of spiritualism to encompass all belief systems, achieved through the sheer resplendence of the butterfly, even in death. 



    Collector’s Digest


    • A leading artist of his generation, Damien Hirst is known for his bold, high-risk attitude, gaining notoriety in the international art scene during the 1990s. Winner of the Turner Prize in 1995, Hirst is associated with the Young British Artists (YBAs), an innovative collective of Goldsmiths art students that embraced a range of materials and creative processes.

    • Exploring themes at the heart of the human experience from science, religion to nature and mortality, Hirst’s wide creative practice includes suspending animals in formaldehyde to embellishing a platinum cast of a human skull with 8,601 diamonds.

    • In 2015, Hirst launched the Newport Street Gallert in London as part of his long-term ambition to share his personal art collection to the public. Since the artist’s first major retrospective at the Museo Archeologico Nazionale, Naples in 2004, Hirst has been exhibited widely. After his landmark show in 2012 at the Tate Modern, London, in 2017, at the Palazzo Grassi and Punta della Dogana, Venice, Hirst presented a decade-long project of over 190 individual works based on a fictional shipwreck imagined by the artist.


    Damien Hirst at Tate Modern



    i Damien Hirst, quoted in Mirta D’ Argenzio, ‘A Different Kind of Love’, Damien Hirst, exh. cat., Museo Archeologico Nazionale, Naples, 2004, p. 83

    • Provenance

      Acquired directly from the artist by the present owner

    • 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



stamped with the artist's stamp, titled and dated ''Creed' 2006 HIRST' on the reverse
butterflies and household gloss on canvas
diameter: 243.8 cm (95 7/8 in.)
framed diameter: 261 cm (102 3/4 in.)

Executed in 2006.

Full Cataloguing

£500,000 - 700,000 

Sold for £685,800

Contact Specialist

Louise Simpson
Associate Specialist
+44 7887 473 568

Modern & Contemporary Art: Evening & Day Sale

London Auction 27 June 2024