Damien Hirst

amfAR Gala Cannes Auction
amfAR Gala Cannes Auction


Damien Hirst

Damien Hirst

Beautiful Leonardo DiCaprio Looking Away Painting, 2016
Household gloss on canvas
111.6 in. x 84 in. / 283.5 cm. x 213.4 cm.
Signed on the back by Damien Hirst and Leonardo DiCaprio.

Internationally renowned British contemporary artist Damien Hirst has been no stranger to shock and spectacle from the start, fusing originality and pastiche into a body of work that has often married the entrepreneurial with the aesthetic.

Born in Bristol and raised in Leeds, Hirst began his art studies at Jacob Kramer College of Art. He moved to London in 1984 and was graduated from Goldsmiths College (1986–1989), where he curated a student show, Freeze, that showcased works by sixteen of his classmates who would go on to be known as the Young British Artists (YBAs), a dominant force in the 1990s art scene thanks in part to art collector Charles Saatchi. During this time, Hirst made the first of his Spot Paintings, which fuse color and geometry and play with the notion of machine-precision art vs. the handheld brush. Beautiful Leonardo DiCaprio Looking Away Painting is an example of Hirst’s Spin Paintings, which use centripetal force to spread bright colors across canvases with a randomness that stands in contrast to his Spot Paintings. Recently he completed a series of paintings during the COVID-19 lockdowns, Cherry Blossoms, large-format canvases that revisit and revise floral subjects of earlier eras.

Along with painting, Hirst has explored assemblages, notably in his series, Medicine Cabinets, and installations, such as Treasures from the Wreck of the Unbelievable, which presented artifacts from a fictional 2,000-year-old shipwreck discovered off the coast of East Africa in 2008 and salvaged by Hirst.

Major retrospectives of Hirst’s work have been mounted at the Museo Archeologico Nazionale in Naples in 2008 and the Tate Modern in London in 2012. He opened his own gallery, the Newport Street Gallery in London, in 2015. Hirst’s accolades include Tate Britain’s Turner Prize, one of the most prestigious awards for contemporary art.

Over the years, Hirst has auctioned off numerous pieces to raise money for HIV/AIDS. In 2014, at amfAR Gala Cannes, Hirst’s gigantic vitrine sculpture, Gone but not Forgotten, which contained the gilded skeleton of a woolly mammoth, was auctioned for €11 million. Donated by Hirst, the work was part of his Natural History series.

Courtesy of Christian Levett @christian_levett

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