This striking block print from 2011 titled New Beginnings 6 is one of six from Damien Hirst’s New Beginnings series. The print shows a large, icy blue butterfly with its wings outspread and set against a bright red backdrop.
Hirst’s New Beginnings series is reminiscent of his 1991 In And Out Of Love (Butterfly Paintings And Ashtrays) installation that fixed the bodies of dead butterflies into monochrome gloss paint, surrounded by overflowing ashtrays. The choice of household gloss was intended to ‘look like an accident of paint with butterflies stuck on it,’ according to the artist. This effect is reflected in New Beginnings 6 that contrasts the highly realistic image of the butterfly against the solid red backdrop.
Speaking to the artist’s preoccupation with the concept that art mirrors life, his use of the butterfly motif has remained prominent throughout his career. Not only is each butterfly born with a unique pattern that mimics the individuality that frames much of human life, but the butterfly for Hirst symbolises growth, change, life and death. The butterfly motif appears both in printed editions as well as in installations where visitors are situated in a room of live butterflies.