The Dead (oriental gold, turquoise) is a signed foil block print in colours on Arches paper produced by renowned contemporary artist, Damien Hirst. In this print, Hirst renders a floating skull in oriental gold with splashes of bright turquoise. The bright colours of the skull contrast with the composition’s white backdrop.
The print, made in 2009, is one of thirty-one prints that form The Dead series. In this series, Hirst produces colourful skulls in order to explore the theme of death in a frank yet light-hearted way. Hirst explains, “you can frighten people with death or an idea of their own mortality, or it can actually give them vigour.” The bold use of colour throughout the series, and evidenced in The Dead (oriental gold, turquoise), reflects how Hirst wants to invigorate the viewer and encourage them to confront their own mortality.
Death has been a subject that has long fascinated Hirst. The artist rose to fame with his impressive yet provocative installation, The Physical Impossibility of Death in the Mind of Someone Living which was unveiled at the Saatchi Gallery’s ‘Young British Artists’ exhibition in 1991. The installation of a 14-foot long tiger shark in a tank of formaldehyde offered a confrontational and sardonic approach to the theme of death and mortality. Hirst has continued to represent death in his artworks, through the use of skulls, dead insects and medicine.