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Signed Print Edition of 55
H 150cm x W 99cm
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Celine Fraser, Acquisition Coordinator
Damien Hirst’s The Skull Beneath The Skin depicts a print of a painted skull atop a black background. The work, an edition of 55 prints, is signed in the bottom right corner. It was first published by the Paul Stolper Gallery in 2005 for the New Religion exhibition.
The print, a frontal depiction of a human skull with teeth, is presented plainly atop a black background. The whiteness of the teeth stand out in contrast to the slightly yellowy bone. The teeth almost shimmer, perhaps achieved through the use of diamond dust in the printing process. The title of the work suggests that Hirst was seeking to explore beyond the visible human exterior. The momento mori reminds the viewer of their mortality.
This work may be compared to several others within Hirst’s oeuvre where a skull is used. His 2007 For The Love Of God sculpture and subsequent prints also used a similar materiality to explore the visual trope of the skull. The sculpture had 8,601 flawless diamonds set into it. The use of diamond dust for the teeth in this print was perhaps a forerunner to that. Similarly Hirst’s Till Death Do Us Part series and his I Once Was What You Are, You Will Be What I Am series both use frontal depictions of skulls to explore particular themes. Therefore, this work is best understood in the context of the rest of Hirst’s work, questioning how he used the skull, in conjunction with the media he chose, to assess issues of mortality.