All You Need Is Love is a screen print by Damien Hirst from 2016 that shows an array of butterflies set against an off-white backdrop. Every butterfly in the square composition is unique and is depicted in bright, contrasting colours to stand out against the plain backdrop. The butterflies are also printed in such a way that their wings appear to be ripped at the edges.
Reminiscent of his series of paintings entitled The Four Elements (Who’s Afraid of Red, Yellow, Green and Blue) from 2005, All You Need Is Love depicts the butterflies as though trapped on flypaper. Works such as this were intended to ‘look like an accident of paint with butterflies stuck on it,’ according to the artist. The butterfly is among Hirst’s most famous motifs, emblematic of the fleetingness of life and the romance of death.
This print takes the optimistic sentiments of the Beatles for its title and fuses this with Hirst’s subtle reflections on mortality. The butterflies appear to be suspended in celebration, their wings retaining their vibrance even in death. Hirst uses the butterfly motif throughout his artistic oeuvre as a ‘universal trigger.’ This motif helps the artist to explore the uncertainties at the core of human experience: love, life, death, loyalty and betrayal through unconventional media.