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The
Cure

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Critical Review

A set of 30 prints published in 2014, The Cure by Damien Hirst epitomises his fascination with the theoretical and visual appeal of pharmaceuticals. In the Cure series, Hirst produced thirty silkscreen prints on Somerset Tub all of which depict a large, two-colour pill. Hirst renders each pill in a unique combination of colours, meaning no two prints in the series are the same.

Throughout the series, Hirst uses bold and vibrant colours which resonate with the Pop Art style popularised by Andy Warhol in the 1960s. Hirst was clearly influenced by Warhol, the leading figure of the Pop Art movement. Warhol was known for blurring the boundaries between high and low culture by producing prints of everyday objects and consumer goods, such as high heel shoes or Campbell’s Soup cans. Hirst does something similar in this series by making pills into artworks. Warhol was famous for challenging the definition of art, and Hirst also does this in the Cure series by breaking down the strict dichotomy between art and science and making pharmaceutical products into works of art. Hirst continued to do this in 2017 with his Eat The Rich series, in which the artist depicted pharmaceutical packaging, instead of the medicinal products themselves.

The series is based on the minimalist aesthetic of the medicinal pill which, despite its simple appearance, behaves in an extremely complex and ingenious way. The simple style and design of the pills Hirst renders in the series reflects the confidence of the pharmaceutical industry and their ability to heal anyone and anything. The manipulation of scale in the prints, with the pills appearing to be extremely large, is another deliberate decision on the part of Hirst to represent the importance of modern medicine.

Hirst has a longstanding interest in the aesthetics of pharmaceuticals. While the artist was studying Fine Art at Goldsmiths, he produced an installation, known as the Medicine Cabinets, in which he filled cabinets with his grandmother’s old tablet packets.

Why is The Cure series important?

Throughout his art, Hirst is interested in exploring belief systems. The Cure series explores the important role medicine plays in modern society and the modernist fantasy that, thanks to scientific developments, everyone and anything can be cured. Hirst is fascinated with the way people worship and rely on pharmaceutical products and their healing abilities. Alongside an exploration of medicine, Hirst’s works also look at other contemporary belief systems such as religion, love and art.

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