Ala-Met by Damien Hirst

40 Woodcut Spots Damien Hirst

Find out more about Damien Hirst’s 40 Woodcut Spots series, browse prints & editions for sale & view the works wanted by active buyers right now.

Damien Hirst’s 40 Woodcut Spots series is one of his largest series, published as a set of 40 prints each in editions of 55. The series is representative of one of Hirst’s most iconic genre of works, the spot paintings. These works first appeared in the Freeze exhibition, curated by Hirst himself in London in 1988. This exhibition showcased his own work alongside the work of his friends and fellow students from Goldsmiths College in an abandoned docklands warehouse. Marking a turning point in Hirst’s career, Hirst then rose to fame and would go on to win the Turner prize seven years later.

Due to its vast size, the 40 Woodcut Spots series showcases huge variety in its deceptively simplistic subject matter. Every single print in the series shows a unique combination of coloured spots in various sizes and grid formulations. Some of the prints show a single large spot in the centre of the composition, whilst others show many rows and columns of spots equally spaced and set against a white backdrop. The spots represent abstraction reduced to its most basic mechanisms: colour, form and composition. The grid formula for these paintings is the basis for an unbounded series where Hirst can infinitely explore harmonious and contrasting colour combinations. Hirst has explained that, “mathematically, with the spot paintings, I probably discovered the most fundamentally important thing in any kind of art. Which is the harmony of where colour can exist on its own, interacting with other colours in a perfect format.”

The titles of each print, based on names of chemical compounds, are abstract in their lack of significance of something tangible in the world. The chemical names evoke nondescript powders or pills and there is an incessant endlessness to the series. The circles are printed in flat, block hues and no colour is repeated twice on the same canvas. Hirst in 2000 remarked on the impact of an installation of multiple spot paintings, “it’s an assault on your senses. They grab hold of you and give you a good shaking. As adults, we’re not used to it. It’s an amazing fact that all objects leap beyond their own dimension.”

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