Memento 11 is an intaglio print from Damien Hirst’s Memento series from 2008. Showing a hyperrealist image of a human skull in the centre of the composition, this print is depicted entirely in monochrome. Set against a stark, black backdrop, Memento 11 is dark in both subject matter and appearance.
This print recalls one of Hirst’s most famous works, a diamond-studded skull entitled For The Love Of God (2007). The iconography of the skull is indicative of the Latin phrase ‘memento mori’, that translates in English to ‘remember that you will die’. This was a common theme in 17th century still life paintings, and Memento 11 appears as a glorious, devotional, defiant and provocative gesture in the face of death.
The Memento series can be divided into two halves, with the first six prints depicting images of brightly coloured butterflies and the last seven each showing a different human skull. Set into dialogue with another, each contrasting with the colouring of the butterflies and the monochrome quality of the skulls, the series is a stark reminder of death, the butterfly motif standing in for the transitory nature of life. Notably, decay and fear are absent from Hirst’s works that explore themes around mortality and are indicative of his interest in the intersection between aesthetics and science.