Damien Hirst - Contemporary Day Sale London Wednesday, July 2, 2014 | Phillips

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  • Provenance

    White Cube, London
    Private Collection

  • Exhibited

    London, White Cube, Romance in the Age of Uncertainty, 9 September – 18 October 2003

  • Catalogue Essay

    Visceral and captivating, Septicaemia is emblematic of Hirst’s restless investigation into the subtle point of transition between life and death. Created in 2003 and inspired by Richard Serra’s black paintstick drawings, the present lot coincides with Hirst’s re-visitation of dead flies as a medium, after his first attempt in 1997. Refining the technique in his addition of resin, Septicaemia appears asan exquisite tapestry comprised by thousands of dead flies densely layered upon the canvas. When asked about his source of inspiration he stated: ‘I think I am just looking at things from very far away. You get a kind of black… I think that makes me ever do anything is if there is something kind of humorous, which is always good. You do it for stupid reasons, but then you find something out that is really good’.

    The present lot is part of the celebrated series ‘The Cancer Chronicles’, first exhibited at the ‘Romance in the Age of Uncertainty’ show at White Cube, London, in 2003. Each piece was titled using the name of a modern disease; such as Tuberculosis, Syphillis, Aids and Malaria. Derived from the Greek term Sepsis, meaning ‘decay’ or ‘to putrefy’, Septicaemia is imbued by an apocalyptic vision of modern-day plagues. This vision was earlier explored by the artist in 1990 in his ground-breaking fly vitrine pieces: ‘A Thousand Years’ and ‘A Hundred Years’. Commenting on this pieces and emphasizing his particular interest in the mechanics of death then said: ‘Oh my God! What have I done? I think it was Thomas Hobbes who said people are like flies brushed off a wall. I like that metaphorically. Your whole life could be like points in space, like nearly nothing. If you make that connection with the paintings… it is like all the people in the world who die in a hundred years. That amount of death is pretty dark’.

  • 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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flies and resin on canvas
137.2 x 101.6 cm (54 x 40 in.)
Signed ‘Damien Hirst’ on the reverse. Further signed ‘Damien Hirst’ on a printed sheet of the poem ‘Sickness The Martyrdom of Saint Jude’ affixed to the reverse. Inscribed ‘Qui tolli peccata mundi’ and ‘Jude’ on the left and upper turnover edges respectively.

£80,000 - 120,000 

Sold for £134,500

Contact Specialist
Henry Highley
Head of Sale
+ 44 20 7318 4061

Contemporary Day Sale

London Auction 3 July 2014 2PM