Spirit is a signed etching produced in 2009, an edition of 45, by Damien Hirst. The print is bold in its centring of a bright, white butterfly, set against a dark, black backdrop. Exploring themes of love, life, death and aesthetics, this is a universally appealing print depicted with contrasting tones.
The butterfly motif has remained prominent throughout Hirst’s career. One of Hirst’s most iconic use of butterflies was in his 1991 In and Out of Love (Butterfly Paintings and Ashtrays) installation that fixed the bodies of dead butterflies into monochrome gloss paint. The artist’s preoccupation with butterflies is rooted in the way that even when the insects are dead, they appear to be alive. Well known for his obsession with mortality, Hirst claims that his use of the butterfly motif is a symbol for the celebration of life rather than death.
It is only in the later stages of Hirst’s career that he has become interested in prints and editions. His first print portfolio was produced in 1999 and was a set of screen prints that depicted medicine bottle labels. Since his first print portfolio, Hirst has produced many prints and editions like Spirit and they are a major part of his oeuvre.