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Spots

Damien Hirst's Spot paintings and prints are universally known, with their precise gridded composition of colourful circles. His ambition is to create art ‘like a machine’, yet each spot’s unique colouration gives the works themselves an irreducible identity—a DNA. They reflect Hirst’s ambition to entangle art with science.

Damien Hirst Spots for sale

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Meaning & Analysis

Universal, timeless and immediately recognisable, when you think of Damien Hirst, chances are his Spots prints are what spring to mind. National and international acknowledgment was to follow, 7 years later Hirst would win the Turner Prize and 30 years on from that he is recognised as one of the most influential artists of the last half-century.

His work has come to be iconic in British culture and is best known for its recurring, unblinking, confrontational and often sardonic dialogue with death, mortality and the human condition. This could be in the guise of a 14-foot long tiger shark in a tank of formaldehyde (The Physical Impossibility of Death in the Mind of Someone Living, 1991), a four-part sculpture of a bisected cow and calf (Mother and Child Divided, 1993) or a human skull studded with 8,601 diamonds (For the Love of God, 2007).

His Spots paintings and prints have become universally recognised, to the point where spots en-masse are synonymous with the artist. Their application and the theory behind it have helped to redefine international expectations of British art and contemporary art in general. The iconic nature of such work is in part because Hirst, almost more than any other artist of the ’90s, became familiar via the media, particularly following his Turner Prize win in 1995, and it is a situation that, at least in some ways, he relishes and uses to his own ends.

Hirst is one of the most ambitious artists of all time. The Spots works are often considered a late addition to his visual language but they in fact occur prior to any sort of serious recognition. It was 2 years before his seminal group show, back in 1986, that Hirst painted some loose hand-painted Spots on board. This was followed by his first Spots work on canvas Untitled (with Black Dot) in 1988. At Freeze, Hirst painted two near-identical arrangements of coloured spots onto the wall of the warehouse. He called the works Edge and Row.

10 Facts About Damien Hirst's Spots

Valium by Damien Hirst

Valium © Damien Hirst, 2000

1. Damien Hirst’s Spots first appeared in 1986.

It was 2 years before his seminal group show, back in 1986, that Hirst painted some loose hand-painted Spots on board. This was followed by his first Spots work on canvas Untitled (with Black Dot) in 1988. At Frieze, Hirst painted two near-identical arrangements of coloured spots onto the wall of the warehouse. He called the works Edge and Row.

Methyamine by Damien Hirst

Methyamine © Damien Hirst, 2014

2. The Spot paintings are an endless exploration of colour and form.

The Spots paintings, on which this set of prints are based, form the basis for an endless exploration of colour and form. Indeed, Hirst has only occasionally halted production of his Spots paintings in his career, continually returning to them with a new variation, each associated with a specific drug group.

Tetrahydrocannabinol by Damien Hirst

Tetrahydrocannabinol © Damien Hirst, 2004

3. Hirst employs assistants to create his artworks.

Adding a factory-like approach to his practice, Hirst began to employ assistants to create his Spot works. This means that Hirst can produce a near-endless number of Spot prints.

3-Methylthymidine by Damien Hirst

3-Methylthymidine © Damien Hirst, 2014

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