The Dead (imperial purple, oriental gold) is a signed foil block print in colours on Arches paper produced by renowned contemporary artist, Damien Hirst. Hirst depicts a floating skull in this print, which he renders in a deep and bold imperial purple. The artist adds splashes of oriental gold which immediately draws the viewer’s attention towards the skull, which dominates the centre of the composition.
The print, produced in 2009, is one of thirty-one prints that compose The Dead series. In this series, Hirst repeatedly uses the image of a skull, an icon for death, however, transforms the image in each print through the use of bold and vibrant colours. The bright and lively colours clash with the theme of death that runs throughout the series, making the series stand out from Hirst’s others in which skulls are depicted in black and white, such as Memento (2008).
Death is a theme that Hirst frequently explores in his artworks. He first developed his interest in exploring what death meant when he was a teenager living in Leeds. When he was sixteen, Hirst would visit the anatomy department of Leeds Medical School and produce life drawings of what he saw there.