New Beginnings 2 is one of six block prints in Damien Hirst’s New Beginnings series from 2011. The print shows a white butterfly with its wings outspread in the centre of a rectangular composition, against a lime green backdrop. The flat, block colour backdrop has an immediate and visceral visual impact set in contrast to the highly realistic depiction of the central butterfly motif.
The New Beginnings series is uplifting and bold in its subject matter and combination of colours. Combining the vernacular of the everyday with artificial colour, Hirst’s work appeals to a broad audience and the butterfly motif is used to convey seemingly universal themes surrounding love. Hirst has explained of the motif: “I think rather than be personal you have to find universal triggers: everyone’s frightened of glass, everyone’s frightened of sharks, everyone loves butterflies.”
Hirst repeats an almost formulaic composition across the entire series, showing a different species of butterfly in the centre of each print, with a brightly coloured backdrop. This repetition of subject and composition across an entire print series is reminiscent of the work of Pop artist Andy Warhol, making clear some of Hirst’s primary influences on his work.