Tate Modern presents the first substantial survey of Damien Hirst’s work ever held in the UK. Hirst is widely regarded as one of the most important artists working today and has created some of the most iconic works in recent history. Sponsored by the Qatar Museums Authority, the exhibition provides a journey through two decades of Hirst’s inventive practice. It also forms part of the London 2012 Festival, the culmination of the Cultural Olympiad.
Damien Hirst first came to public attention in London in 1988 when he conceived and curated Freeze, an exhibition of his own work and that of his friends and fellow Goldsmiths College students, staged in a disused London warehouse. Many of the works he created at that time will be on display at Tate Modern for the first time since the 1980s. In the nearly quarter of a century since then, Hirst has gone on to become one of the most influential artists of his generation.
Bringing together over seventy of the artist’s seminal works, the exhibition includes key sculptures from the early 1990s, such as The Physical Impossibility of Death in the Mind of Someone Living, in which a shark is suspended in formaldehyde, and Mother and Child Divided, a four-part sculpture of a bisected cow and calf. Also on show are important vitrines, such as A Thousand Years 1990, in which the cycle of life is represented by a cow’s head, flies and insect-o-cutor. Alongside these sculptures are cabinets displaying rows of pills, medical packaging and surgical implements, as well as paintings made throughout Hirst’s career from his spot, spin, butterfly and fly series. In addition, two major installations are on display:
In and Out of Love 1991, which includes a room full of live butterflies and has not been shown in its entirety since its creation, and Pharmacy 1992.
Damien Hirst said:
“We have been planning this show for so long I can’t believe it’s finally happening – I think I was avoiding looking back but now I’ve done it it’s exciting! It’s nearly twenty-five years of my life. There is something for everyone and I’m glad people will get the opportunity to see my work and judge for themselves.”
Damien Hirst was born in 1965 in Bristol, UK. He lives and works in London and Devon. He is one of the most prominent artists to have emerged from the British art scene in the 1990s. Hirst’s exploration of imagery is notable for its strong associations to life and death, and to belief and value systems.
Damien Hirst is curated by Ann Gallagher, Head of Collections (British Art), Tate, with Loren Hansi Momodu, Assistant Curator, Tate Modern and is coordinated by Sophie McKinlay, Project Manager, Tate Modern. The exhibition will be accompanied by a fully illustrated catalogue by Tate Publishing.