Damien Hirst - 20th Century & Contemporary Art Evening Sale London Tuesday, October 4, 2016 | Phillips
  • Provenance

    Private Collection (acquired directly from the artist)
    Private Collection, Transylvania
    Christie’s, London, 5 February 2004, lot 217
    Private Collection
    Phillips, London, 14 February 2013, lot 20
    Acquired at the above sale by the present owner

  • Exhibited

    New York, Gagosian Gallery, The Complete Spot Paintings 1986-2011, 12 January – 18 February 2012, p.44 (illustrated)

  • Catalogue Essay

    Damien Hirst has been one of the most prominent presences in the contemporary art scene - from his earlier career at Goldsmiths College in London, where he assembled his first Medicine Cabinet, Sinner, in 1988, to his Tate Modern retrospective in 2012, Hirst’s art is some of the most striking and most recognised today. The Spot Paintings undoubtedly are one of the best known series of modern art, conforming to a notion of structure familiar from the Medicine Cabinets, and yet it gave him the control over colour in painting he was looking for: 'The thing that was causing me problems in painting was colour, finding a structure where I could lay it down, be in control of it rather than it controlling me. Once I’d done that, I didn’t really have problems with colour anymore.' (Damien Hirst in Ann Gallagher ed., Damien Hirst, 2012, p. 91)

    Damien Hirst’s spot paintings have been a source of controversy in the art world since their first appearance in the mid-1980s - not only has the exact number of the existing spot paintings has long been questioned, but they were both celebrated and disdained for their machine-like industrial uniformity. In this lot, uniquely coloured dots are arranged in a precise grid; the regimented pattern implies order and structure, yet looking at the painting there is an underlying sense of chaos. The artist explains this as due to the lack of satisfying colour interplay: 'If you look closely at one of these paintings a strange thing happens: because of the lack of repeated colours there is no harmony. We are used to picking out chords of the same colour and balancing them with different chords of other colours to create meaning. This can’t happen. So in every painting there is subliminal sense of unease; yet the colours project so much joy it’s hard to feel it, but it’s there.' (D. Hirst, I want to spend the rest of my life everywhere, with everyone, one to one, always, forever, now, London, 1997, p. 246). This spot painting is exemplary of the approach taken by the artist to much of his oeuvre - despite the differing hues of the spots, they come together to create a unified composition, and each individual object, be it a pill in his Medicine Cabinet, a diamond in a Diamond Cabinet, or a spot in the Spot Paintings, is completely equal to the next in its value to the greater whole. By employing different objects simply in this role of a part of the whole, Hirst questions the value of each, and whether you can truly know the artistic value of a pill, a diamond, or a spot. His ingeniously simple artistic vision provides deep emotions to its viewer, as well as fundamentally questions what art is.

  • 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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Untitled #2 (Spot Painting)

signed ‘Damien Hirst’ on the reverse
household gloss on canvas
91.4 x 91.4 cm (35 7/8 x 35 7/8 in.)
Executed in 1992.

£300,000 - 500,000 ‡♠

Sold for £509,000

Contact Specialist
Peter Sumner
Head of Contemporary Art, London
+44 207 318 4063

Henry Highley
Head of Sale
+ 44 20 7318 4061

20th Century & Contemporary Art Evening Sale

London Auction 5 October 2016