Damien Hirst - Contemporary Art Day Sale London Monday, June 29, 2015 | Phillips

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  • Provenance

    A gift from the artist to the previous owner
    Private Collection, UK, acquired from the above, 2010

  • Catalogue Essay

    Between 2006 and 2008 we see a rare foray by Damien Hirst into the traditional form, resulting in a remarkable series of works on paper. The ominous sequence shows white imagery against a strong blue-black canvas. Having spent most of his career using other methods to express himself, Hirst is not best known for his representational painting. However, clearly influenced by the style of Francis Bacon and Picasso’s Blue Period, the series portrays the iconic motifs synonymous with Hirst’s work, most prominent the use of butterflies and the skeletal form. They often appear in still life arrangements, recalling the memento mori obsessions of the Renaissance. Referring to Bacon’s influence, Hirst stated that ‘Bacon is grasping for something in the shadows:’ this sensibility is visible throughout his works on paper, but truly stands out in the present lot. Lost Skull and Spine 2 depicts a profile of the recurring skull fading into darkness, regimented by the white dots that co-ordinate the painting. This distinctive period in Hirst’s career exhibits vulnerability in his art, commenting 'the paintings are about my mortality, whereas all the other stuff was about more immortality.' Unique to the other works during this period, the painting is composed on newspaper, set and framed, rather than laid on canvas; the use of this more ephemeral medium compounds a ghostly sense of melancholy that haunts Hirst’s icons of death and decay.

  • 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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Lost Skull and Spine 2

oil on newspaper laid on canvas
67 x 57.4 cm (26 3/8 x 22 5/8 in.)
Signed and dedicated 'For Louise [LOVE] Damien Thanks xxx' lower right. DH Science Archive no. 9782

£80,000 - 120,000 

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

Contemporary Art Day Sale

London Auction 30 June 2015 2pm