The Souls On Jacob’s Ladder 2 is an intaglio print from Damien Hirst’s The Souls On Jacob’s Ladder Take Their Flight series from 2007. The print features a single butterfly depicted in green, red and brown and in exquisite, photographic detail. The butterfly sits in the centre of the square composition and set against a plain black backdrop.
Harking back to the work of Pop artist Andy Warhol, Hirst creates a series of six prints with the same subject and composition, each showing a different species of butterfly in varying colour combinations making each print unique. Rendering the fine detail of the butterfly wings and setting this against the dark backdrop, Hirst combines these elements to produce an image that finds universally engaging triggers. This contrast between the flat background and the realistic image of the insect plays with Hirst’s concern with facts and truth that images are assumed to depict.
The butterfly motif is a prominent figure that Hirst has used throughout his career to bring together themes around morality, life, love, faith and aesthetics. Speaking of his obsession with butterflies Hirst has explained, “I think rather than be personal you have to find universal triggers: everyone’s frightened of glass, everyone’s frightened of sharks, everyone loves butterflies.”