Damien Hirst first came to the public attention in 1988 when he conceived and curated Freeze, an exhibition in a disused warehouse which showed his work and his fellow students at Goldsmiths College, London who later became known as the successful Young British Artists of the 90’s. In the quarter of a century since that show, Hirst has become one of the most influential and the UK’s richest living artist of his generation.
Born in Bristol in 1965; Hirst was a rebellious child and was not a strong student, however he showed promise in art and eventually decided to study it at university. During the 80’s he took a keen interest in the punk music scene that was taking a hold in British culture which can be seen in his work today.
Hirst’s reputation as an artist quickly soared with his displays of animals in formaldehyde and his installations with butterflies, seen as reflections on mortality and the human unwillingness to confront it. His later work includes paintings made by spin machines and a diamond studded platinum cast human skull entitled ‘For the Love of God’, probably the most expensive work of art ever made.
One of Hirst’s most widely recognised works are his Spot Paintings; there are over 1,000 in existence dating from 1986 to 2011. “It was just a way of pinning down the joy of colour. 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,” Hirst cited in On the Way to Work by Damien Hirst and Gordon Burn.
By the late 90’s, Hirst had become a key figure in British art and culture and in recent years, in addition to making art, he has tried his hand at writing books, directing music videos and designing restaurants.