“Great art—or good art—is when you look at it, experience it and it stays in your mind. I don’t think conceptual art and traditional art are all that different.”
Damien Hirst’s (b. Bristol, England, United Kingdom, 1965) works comprise installations, painting, and sculpture with the goal to deliberately shock and question the very nature of art. Themes that interest the artist include death, medicine, technology, and superficiality. Hirst first came to attention upon his curation of Freeze while studying art at Goldsmiths, an exhibition featuring his own and other students’ art who ultimately made up the Young British Artists (YBAS). He immediately came to dealer Charles Saatchi’s attention, who financed his groundbreaking The Physical Impossibility of Death in the Mind of Someone Living (1991), consisting of a shark preserved in formaldehyde. This work became part of his Natural History series, featuring taxidermized animals, some of which were dissected or flayed. Hirst is also well known for his Spot and Spin paintings. The Spot paintings consist of rows of randomly colored circles by assistants, while the Spin paintings are made with paint applied to a spinning circular surface. In 2015, he opened Newport Street Gallery in London, where he lives and works, in order to share his art collection with the public.