The Dead (island copper, silver gloss) is a signed foil block print in colours on Arches paper produced by renowned contemporary artist, Damien Hirst. The print shows a floating skull, rendered by Hirst in a striking island copper colour with elements of silver gloss. The skull is depicted against a white backdrop, making it stand out against the plain background.
The print, produced in 2009, is one of thirty-one prints that compose the artist’s series, The Dead. In each print in the series, Hirst depicts a skull, however he brings variety to the series by using a different combination of colours in each print. The Dead (island copper, silver gloss) is a particularly striking print, with the bright island copper colour seeming to contrast with the sombre theme of the series, death.
The skull is a memento mori, an artistic reminder of the inevitability of death. The series as a whole therefore acts as a visual reminder of death, however the use of bright colours is a means for Hirst to combat the negative connotations and fear surrounding death itself. The skull is a symbol that has been used throughout the history of art and transcends history and culture as an icon for death. Alongside the butterfly, the skull is one of Hirst’s most celebrated motifs.