For The Love Of God Damien Hirst
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Damien Hirst’s For the Love of God portfolio is a set of nine prints showing various two-dimensional reproductions of the artist’s very famous sculpture, For the Love of God (2007). The skull in each print is covered entirely with diamonds and set with a large stone in the centre of the forehead.
Aside from For the Love of God Beyond Belief, every print in this series shows a hyperrealist, photographic representation of Hirst’s famous skull sculpture. This photographic style is typical of many of Hirst’s prints and editions. For the Love of God Beyond Belief is therefore unusual due to its highly expressive and uninhibited style, showing a pair of sketches of human skulls that emphasise the presence of the artist’s hand. Each of these prints show the skull sculpture set against a black, white or grey backdrop, producing a monochrome effect across the entire series.
The prints in this series show the sculpture with a large stone set in the centre of the skull forehead. This central stone was inspired by Hirst’s childhood memories of the comic 2000 AD. Hirst explains that the comic “used to have a character in it called Tharg the Mighty who had a circle on his forehead. He was like a kind of powerful God-like figure who controlled the universe…It kind of just looked like it needed something. A third eye; a connection to Jesus and his dad.”
As the title of the series indicates, Hirst is fascinated by religion, and his work address the endless renewal of faith, even in the face of mortality. The iconography of the skull and the diamond in this series synthesises Hirst’s fascination with the intersection between religion, aesthetics and science that govern humanity. Moreover, the title of this series and the original 2007 sculpture stem from exclamations that Hirst’s mother would make when hearing of his new works as a young artist. Hirst explains: ‘She used to say, “For the love of God, what are you going to do next!”’
Why is the For the Love of God series so important?
The iconography of the skull has become one of Hirst’s most celebrated motifs in his career. The sculpture, For the Love of God (2007), on which this print series is based, has become iconic to Hirst’s name. Fascinated by death as a subject for artistic investigation, Hirst does not represent decay or fear of death with his diamond encrusted piece, but instead transforms this image of mortality into an aestheticized symbol. Hirst’s For the Love of God series shows the duality that structures the core of human experience, depicting an object that represents the constant psychic tussle between life and death, beauty and decay, desire and fear, love and loss.
Fascinated with the concept of death, the For the Love of God series acts as a reminder that human existence on earth is transient. Hirst is known for drawing on longer traditions in art history and visual culture more broadly, notably with the iconography of the skull hinting towards the classic art historical subject of ‘memento mori’. Furthermore, Hirst in this series takes inspiration from Aztec skulls and the Mexican outlook on death, drawing on the tradition of decoration.
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