All You Need Is Love Love Love is a screen print from Damien Hirst’s 2016 Love series that shows an array of butterflies captured on a bold red heart and set against an off-white backdrop. Titled after the Beatles song of the same name, this print was released in an edition of 50 and radiates positivity.
Hirst describes the butterfly, like the shark or glass, as a ‘universal trigger’. The motif of the butterfly has been used by the Greeks to depict Psyche, the soul, and in Christian imagery represents resurrection. Hirst’s long-standing obsession with the butterfly motif was conceived in the late 1980s, when seeing flies get stuck on primed canvases whilst he was working on the fly and cow’s head sculpture A Thousand Years from 1990.
Hirst’s use of the butterfly in this series differs significantly from his first reference to the insect in his In and Out of Love (Butterfly Paintings and Ashtrays) installation from 1991. This work included live butterflies and was an exploration of ‘the way the real butterfly can destroy the idea (birthday-card) kind of love; the symbol exists apart from the real thing.’ The bright colours and simplified visual language of All You Need is Love Love Love exemplifies this idealised beauty as separate from the insect itself that Hirst encapsulates in his work.