Damien Hirst - 20th Century & Contemporary Art Evening Sale London Thursday, October 5, 2017 | Phillips

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  • Provenance

    Jay Jopling, London
    Private Collection, Switzerland

  • Exhibited

    The Hague, Gemeentemuseum, Transforming the Known, 8 June – 29 September 2013

  • Literature

    Robert Violette, ed., Damien Hirst, I Want to Spend the Rest of My Life Everywhere, with Everyone, One to One, Always, Forever, Now, London, 2005, p. 244 (illustrated)
    Jason Beard and Millicent Wilner, eds., Damien Hirst The Complete Spot Paintings 1986-2011, London, 2013, p. 117 and p. 829 (illustrated)

  • Catalogue Essay

    An accurate arrangement of monochromatic points precisely organised within the plane, varying shades of black tones instil the work with motion and dimensionality. Executed in 1995, the year Damien Hirst won the Turner Prize, the present work is an early and important example of Hirst’s regimented Spot Paintings which have spanned more than two decades.

    Unlike the polychromatic variations of Hirst’s Spot Paintings, the present work with its fluctuating tones of black brings Hirst’s role as a colourist into a new light. Commenting on his colour theory and their calculated nature, the artist asserts: ‘Mathematically, with the spot paintings, I probably discovered the most fundamentally important thing in any kind of art, which is the harmony of where colour can exist on its own, interacting with other colours in a perfect format’ (Damien Hirst and Gordon Burn, On the Way to Work, London, 2001, pp. 119-120). In line with Hirst’s pronouncements, in the present composition the notion of colour is redefined, each tone acts and interacts with the next in a flawless way.

    Unfailingly and routinely paralleling the medical and the artistic, Hirst toys with the limits of artistic conception. A ‘scientific approach to painting in a similar way to the drug companies' scientific approach to life. Art doesn't purport to have all the answers; the drug companies do. Hence the title of the series, The Pharmaceutical Paintings, and the individual titles of the paintings themselves... Art is like medicine, it can heal’ (Damien Hirst, I Want to Spend the Rest of My Life Everywhere, with Everyone, One to One, Always, Forever, Now, London, 1997, p. 246). As in his carefully arranged Pill Paintings and Medicine Cabinets, the latticed framework of precisely painted dots in Cyclohexane presents the viewer with a strictly and aesthetically arranged harmony. Demonstrating an investigation of colour and tone within a calculated schema, evocative of the routine geometry of Josef Albers and his theoretical explorations, Hirst’s Spot Paintings are a distinctive and pivotal arrangement from the artist’s controversial oeuvre.

    Hypnotising and homochromous, the present composition, Cyclohexane, shares a name with the colourless chemical acquired from petroleum or through hydrogenating benzene, and used as a solvent and paint remover. A playful paradox is presented by the artist in this work from the sub-series Deuterated Compounds, a composition formed of household gloss on canvas shares its name with a toxic paint-stripping substance. A revered series, characterised by regularity, the Spot Paintings were conceived during Hirst’s years at Goldsmiths, London. Initially consisting of circles one to four inches in diameter the spots have since grown to span from just one millimetre to sixty inches. Playing a crucial part in the upward trajectory of the Young British Artists (YBA’s), Hirst organised the inaugural exhibition Freeze in 1988 in which Spot Paintings were painted directly onto the exhibition walls.

    Hirst persistently provokes discussion on contemporary art and his radical creative output is firmly rooted in the dicta of twenty-first century art. Through comprehensive and limitless evaluation of the boundaries of creation, from his earliest showcases of some of the YBA group's most distinctive work to his present show in Venice, Treasures from the Wreck of the Unbelievable, Hirst reminds us of his unstoppable imagination. Cyclohexane is an early example of Damien Hirst’s revered Spot Paintings, an almost forensic investigation into the power of repetition and variation of colour and scale.

  • 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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Ο ◆25


signed 'D S Hirst' on the reverse; further signed 'D S Hirst' on the stretcher
household gloss on canvas
152.4 x 152.4 cm (60 x 60 in.)
Painted in 1995.

£600,000 - 800,000 ‡ ♠

Sold for £729,000

Contact Specialist
Henry Highley
Specialist, Head of Evening Sale
+ 44 20 7318 4061 [email protected]

20th Century & Contemporary Art Evening Sale

London Auction 6 October 2017