New Beginnings Damien Hirst
Find out more about Damien Hirst’s New Beginnings series, browse prints & editions for sale & view the works wanted by active buyers right now.
Completed in 2011, New Beginnings is a set of six striking block prints by Damien Hirst. Each rectangular composition shows a different species of butterfly with its wings outspread in the centre, set against a bright block coloured backdrop.
Hirst began working with butterflies early on in his career, beginning in 1989 and first displaying butterfly works in 1991 with his installation In And Out Of Love (Butterfly Paintings and Ashtrays). The use of real butterflies for aesthetic purposes derives from a form of hobbyism that was popular in the 19th century, wherein Victorian fire-screens were made with dead butterflies. Hirst’s use of dead butterflies, notably their wings separated from their bodies, is now highly controversial. Notably, Hirst’s Mandalas have garnered attention in the way that the butterflies have most likely been bred specifically for the purpose of using their wings for the final work.
Rod Mengham in a catalogue accompanying the White Cube Mandalas exhibition in 2019 wrote that: “Hirst’s prolonged exploration of the life cycle of the butterfly its spectacular visual appeal, the mythological and cultural formations it has inspired, and the variety of forms of response it has provoked in both artists and scientists, is one of the most thoroughgoing and many-sided conceptual projects sustained by any contemporary artist.” New Beginnings is an example of the way in which Hirst’s butterfly works incite visceral and emotive responses in viewers.
The title of the series New Beginnings points to the highly symbolic nature of the butterfly that suggests the life cycle and ideas around life changing direction or beginning again. Hirst is hyper aware of the way in which the motif of the butterfly has been used by the Greeks to depict Psyche, the soul, and in Christian imagery represents resurrection. Indeed, the title of this series evokes common virtues found in a range of religions, reflecting Hirst’s fascination with spirituality and the human psyche.
Co-opting the natural patterns of the butterfly wing into a regulated and methodical composition, New Beginnings explores complex tensions that Hirst is best known for. Furthermore, Hirst’s repetition of subject matter and composition is reminiscent of the work of Pop artist Andy Warhol, exploring varying colour combinations and producing works on a mass scale.
Why is the New Beginnings series so important?
The New Beginnings series speaks to the artist’s preoccupation with the concept that art mirrors life due to his use of the butterfly motif. Not only is each butterfly born with a unique pattern that mimics the individuality that frames much of human life, but the butterfly for Hirst symbolises growth, change, life and death. The butterfly motif appears both in printed editions as well as in installations where visitors are situated in a room of live butterflies. This series is a visually striking series produced in the most recent stage of Hirst’s career. Whether purchased as a group of six or as an individual artwork, these prints make for a highly desirable addition to any collection.
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