In A Spin Damien Hirst
Find out more about Damien Hirst’s In A Spin, The Action Of The World Upon Things Vol. I and II series, browse prints & editions for sale & view the works wanted by active buyers right now.
Damien Hirst’s In A Spin, The Action Of The World Upon Things portfolios are a collection of 37 prints published in two volumes, that each depict concentric circles made up of wiry lines and expressive painterly marks. The lines rendered in many of the prints are regular and very tightly rendered, and thus convey a great sense of movement and speed.
The In A Spin, The Action Of The World Upon Things portfolios are based on Hirst’s famous spin paintings, a series of works that the artist began producing in 1995. To create the original spin paintings Hirst attached a large circular canvas to a spin machine in his studio, then threw paint onto the spinning canvas to create abstract painterly marks. The etchings in this portfolio were produced using a very similar technique, attaching copper plates to the machine, and drawing the spiral lines with needles, screwdrivers, and other sharp tools as they spun.
The spin paintings began as a collaboration between Hirst and Angus Fairhurst in 1993 at the iconic event ‘A Fete Worse than Death,’ where the two dressed as clowns and produced the first spin paintings. The curator Gregor Muir has recalled: “Using an inverted electric drill and a piece of wood onto which they could fasten sheets of paper, Fairhurst and Hirst set up a spin painting stall – an idea borrowed from a once popular children’s game using painting and an old record player cranked up to 78rpm. A spin painting cost £1 to produce and was signed by both artists on the reverse. In Hirst’s case, the idea proved too useful to be left behind, resulting in his subsequent ‘Spin Paintings’.”
The second half of the series’ title, ‘The Action of the World on Things’ derives from a phrase the artist coined in 1999 when he was clarifying the origins of his spot paintings. He distinguished two aspects of his work: “an involvement with death and decay, and ideas and life: the action of the world on things exists somewhere, and the colour exists somewhere else. And it’s fantastic.” In A Spin, The Action Of The World Upon Things is said to unite these two elements of Hirst’s work.
Why is In A Spin, The Action Of The World Upon Things Vol. I and II so important?
Abstraction has been a key part of Hirst’s oeuvre since the mid-1990s and the In A Spin, The Action Of The World Upon Things portfolios are representative of this turn in his style. The process of creating these works became a performance-like ritual that continued for numerous days. The use of the rotating machine is reminiscent of the optical experiments of the Dada artist Marcel Duchamp from the 1920s and 30s. While Duchamp used motorised spinning devices to create optical illusions, Hirst instead uses a spin machine towards aesthetic and expressionistic ends.
It is only in the later stages of Hirst’s career that he has become interested in prints and editions. His first print portfolio was produced in 1999 and were a set of screen prints that depicted medicine bottle labels. Since his first print portfolio, Hirst has ventured into the technique of etching like the prints in the In A Spin, The Action Of The World Upon Things Vol. I and II.
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