Damien Hirst in Kunsthalle Bremen

In 1988 something special happened in an empty building in the London Docklands. A group of students from Goldsmiths College of Art organized a group exhibition that caught the attention of Iraqi-British Jewish advertising millionaire (and art collector) Charles Saatchi. It was a breakthrough for several of the art students involved, who from then on became known as the YBAs – Young British Artists.

One of the names on the list of participants – I was surprised to learn – was Ian Davenport (@iandavenportofficial). I posted about his work “Poured Lines: Primer” from 2006 a couple of weeks ago in which he demonstrated his beautiful technique of constructing lines of paint by letting the paint drop slowly over a canvas. Check #DavenportMuseumView to see it.

One of the other names on the list was Damien Hirst (@damienhirst).

Hirst became famous for his works in which he put preserved dead animals in formaldehyde. The first of these works, involving a 4 meter long tiger shark, was commissioned by Saatchi. (Who made a killing in selling it on later). Other notable works include a skull adorned with thousands of diamonds (“For the Love of God”), his attribution to the 2017 Venice Biennale called “Treasures from the Wreck of the Unbelievable” which focussed on works found in a – completely fictional – diving expedition to a shipwreck, and several works in a series of spot paintings.

Hirst also worked with butterflies, as can be seen in this work in the “Icons” exhibition in the Kunsthalle Bremen (@kunsthalle.bremen). The work is called “Liberation” and is from 2019. The work combines the cruelty of dead butterflies having had their wings removed with the aesthetics of the way they are arranged.