Damien Hirst

A pioneer of the British art movement

A successful and controversial artist, Damien Hirst was born in Bristol, England, on June 7, 1965. He emerged as a leading figure in the Young British Artists movement in the late 1980’s and 1990’s. His works, which include dead animal displays and spin-art paintings, have sold for exceptionally high prices. Hirst is one of the wealthiest artists living today.

Raised Catholic, Damien Hirst grew up in Leeds. His early religious education would later factor into his artwork. He showed an interest in the grisly and gruesome aspects of life early on. His mother would later describe him as a morbid child.

While not everyone was enthralled with his work, Hirst received support some years later from Charles Saatchi, advertising Titan and art collector. Saatchi lent financial assistance to Hirst, and also started collecting Hirst’s pieces, which also advanced the artist’s reputation. Saatchi bought two of Hirst’s medicine cabinet sculptures, which one critic later said constituted “a constellation of still lifes that express and reflect the human body as a field of vulnerabilities and of hopeful medical interventions.”

Hirst continued to push the boundaries of art. In 2007, he unveiled “For the Love of God,” a glittering, diamond-encrusted skull made of platinum. Many critics were less than impressed with this “celebration against death,” as Hirst described. Others marveled at the anticipated selling price of $100 million. Perhaps a sign of declining interest in his work, no one initially bought the piece. It was later bought by a group that included Hirst and London’s White Cube gallery.

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