Eat The Rich Damien Hirst
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Published as a set of twelve silkscreen prints in editions of 150, the Eat The Rich series by renowned contemporary Damien Hirst combines science with art, breaking down the strict dichotomy between these two disciplines.
The Eat the Rich series reflects Hirst’s interest in the pharmaceutical industry and modern medicine. In the series, Hirst produces prints which depict the packaging of pharmaceutical products. While Hirst maintains the minimalist designs of the pharmaceutical packaging, he replaces the tablets’ brand name with a word implying violence, force or aggression such as ‘anarchy,’ ‘riot,’ and ‘clash.’ The meticulous way Hirst produces his prints aligns with the scientific precision that goes into the creation of medicine. Hirst draws attention to this throughout the series by including scientific detail in his prints, detailing the contents of the pharmaceutical products that he draws. The accurate scientific terminology Hirst includes in his prints in the series make the prints seem like images of real pharmaceutical products, blurring the boundary between art and science.
Hirst’s interest in the pharmaceutical industry and the products they are responsible for producing has been explored throughout his artistic career. While the Eat The Rich series was made in 2017, Hirst first explored depictions of pharmaceuticals while studying Fine Art at Goldsmiths in 1988. Hirst produced an installation, known as the Medicine Cabinet series, in which he filled medicine cabinets with his grandmother’s old tablet boxes. Hirst wanted to explore the interaction between the human body and modern medicine, touching on themes of life and death, myth and medicine. These themes were further explored in Hirst’s The Cure series from 2014, in which the artist rendered a large pill in the Pop Art style popularised by Andy Warhol in the 1960s.
The minimalist design that Hirst favours throughout the Eat The Rich series, which is influenced by conceptual sculptors such as Sol Le Witt and Donald Judd, also reflects the confidence of the pharmaceutical industry and their healing powers. Hirst explains that the simple designs are employed by pharmaceutical companies to perpetuate the modern fantasy “that everything can be cured.” The prints in this series make the viewer think about the aesthetics of pharmaceutical packaging and as well as the important role medicine plays in modern society.
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