2018 Woodcut Spots Damien Hirst
Find out more about Damien Hirst’s 2018 Woodcut Spots series, browse prints & editions for sale & view the works wanted by active buyers right now.
The 2018 Woodcut Spots series is instantly recognisable as the work of Damien Hirst. The spot paintings have come to be Hirst’s most iconic genre of works. Published in a set of four woodcut prints, this series shows four rectangular compositions with several rows of coloured spots, all the same shape and size, each depicted in a unique colour.
The origins of these famous works are from 1988, when Hirst in the final stages of his Freeze exhibition painted two arrangements of coloured spots onto the wall of the warehouse, titling them Edge and Row respectively. The Freeze exhibition marked a turning point in Hirst’s career where he rose to fame in London. Hirst curated and began this exhibition that took place in an abandoned docklands warehouse, showcasing the work of his friends and fellow students from Goldsmiths College, as well as his own. Seven years later Hirst won the Turner Prize and is now deemed to be one of the most influential artists of the last 30 years.
The titles of each print in this series are based on names of chemical compounds, and indicate Hirst’s interest in investigating boundaries between science, aesthetics, medicine and art. The colourful spots are set in equal distance from one another in a formulaic composition. The white clinical backdrop of the print recalls a laboratory and its kit, alluding to the crispness of coats, benches and hospital walls. Moreover, in its depiction of many spots, this print appears like a packet of medical pills.
There are over 1000 spot paintings in existence, dating from 1988 to 2011, where Hirst has produced an average of 60 spot paintings a year. The grid formula for these paintings is the basis for an endless series where Hirst can infinitely explore harmonious and contrasting colour combinations. Fascinated by intuitive colour choice from his days at Goldsmiths, Hirst claims that the spot paintings have removed any problems he previously had with colour, allowing him to present a perfect arrangement of colour that is never repeated. Hirst has said of these works, “To create that structure, to do those colours, and do nothing. I suddenly got what I wanted. It was just a way of pinning down the joy of colour.”
Why is the 2018 Woodcut Spots series so important?
The 2018 Woodcut Spots series is representative of a vast body of work in Hirst’s oeuvre, the spot paintings, that have become iconic to his name. It was with the spot paintings that Hirst began to employ assistants to complete the painstaking and laborious task of producing these works. This was part of the artist’s aim towards creating works that appeared to have been produced mechanically and without human intervention. The apparent lack of human intervention in these works further emphasises the mathematical precision that underlines their compositions. Adding a factory-like approach to his practice, the spot paintings marked a departure from previous experimentation with paint and collage early on in his career.
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