Arguably one the most successful and well-known artists in the world to date, Damien Hirst is a creative visionary, his brand as prolific as his artwork. Exhibited internationally, his work spans mediums and whether sculpture, painting, drawing or installation his works are overloaded with intensity and tension. Taking inspiration from a range of sources including abstract expressionists John Hoyland and Willem de Kooning, he has cultivated a style recognisable for its brash monumentalism and unapologetic gall.

Born in Bristol in 1965, Hirst emerged as a leading ‘enfant terrible’ in the Young British Artists (the YBAs) movement in the late 1980s and 1990’s. Hirst lead the way and was instrumental in their rise, curating the group exhibition Freeze in 1988, which has since come to define the group. Organised whilst Hirst was still a student at Goldsmiths College, London, the show included Sarah Lucas, Jake and Dinos Chapman and Tracey Emin, amongst others. Staking their arrival in the art world, the show set the tone for the group’s typically entrepreneurial attitude. From staging exhibitions in disused warehouses, working from shop-fronts to tearing around art fairs, they made their presence known not least for the provocative content of their work.

Hirst’s early works were scintillating and emphatically affronting. Dead animals frozen in formaldehyde, live maggots and butterflies were put on display in a defiant move to confront mortality and life’s proximity to death. Fascinated from a young age with the physical presence of death, growing up in Leeds he frequently visited the city’s Medical School to make life drawings.

Damien Hirst
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