Damien Hirst is a British conceptual artist, painter, and creator of art installations. He was a key figure in the Young British Artists movement and his controversial works have made him one of the world’s wealthiest living artists.
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Facts About Damien Hirst
- Damien Hirst was born in Bristol, UK, in 1965 as Damien Steven Brennan.
- He was raised in Leeds by his mother. She wasn’t very tolerant of his love for his love of punk records, but she did encourage him to draw.
- He attended Allerton Grange School and he was only allowed to continue on to the sixth form to take A-levels after his art teacher pleaded his case. He ended up receiving a grade E in art. After an appeal, he attended Jacob Kramer College (an art school).
- In the early-1980s, he was inspired by the work of Francis Davison.
- After working on building sites in London for two years, in 1986 Damien Hirst began to study Fine Art at Goldsmiths College, London.
- One of his tutors was Michael Craig-Martin, and Damien Hirst was inspired by Craig-Martin’s work called An Oak Tree.
- At Goldsmith’s, Damien Hirst organised a student art exhibition at London Dockland’s in a disused administrative building. Due to Michael Craig-Martin’s influence, it was attended by several important people in the art world, including Nicholas Serota and Charles Saatchi.
- After graduating, Hirst showed his art in two multi-artist exhibitions housed in a former biscuit factory at Bermondsey, London. Charles Saatchi purchased Damien Hirst’s installation called A Thousand Years. This work consisted of a rotting cow’s head being consumed by live maggots and flies. It was housed in a glass case.
- Charles Saatchi offered to fund Damien Hirst’s work and showcase it in his Saatchi Gallery, London. For Saatchi’s Young British Artists exhibition, Hirst created a work called The Physical Impossibility of Death in the Mind of Someone Living. It consisted of a preserved tiger shark in a tank of formaldehyde. The work sold for £50,000.
- In 1993, Damien Hirst produced a work called Away from the Flock. It was a sheep in a tank of formaldehyde.
- In 1995, he directed the music video for Blur’s Country House song, and he also directed the short film Hanging Around, featuring Eddie Izzard.
- He formed the band Fat Les with Alex James (the bassist from Blur) and actor Keith Allen. Their football song Vindaloo got to number 2 in the charts.
- He was good friends with the musician and singer Joe Strummer. When Strummer died of a heart attack, Damien Hirst founded the charity Strummerville to help young musicians.
- Hirst designed a cover for the 2004 Band Aid 20 charity single, featuring a grim reaper. It was replaced by a reindeer design when the record was released.
- In 2007, Damien Hirst’s Lullaby Spring, a work consisting of a steel cabinet filled with pills, sold for $19.2 million dollars, a record price for the work of a living artist at the time.
- His work For the Love of God was a human skull encrusted with more than 8500 real diamonds (at a cost of more than £15,000,000). The asking price for the work was around $100 million. It was sold in 2008.
- In 2009, Damien Hirst exhibited paintings he had completed after being influenced by the artist Francis Bacon.
- He designed the cover for the Red Hot Chili Peppers 2011 album I’m With You.
- Damien Hirst has a large art collection, including work by Francis Bacon, Jeff Koons, Banksy, Andy Warhol, Tracey Emin, John Hoyland, and Gary Hume.
- Hirst won the 1995 Turner Prize, and in 2012 he was one of the individuals chosen by the artist Peter Blake to feature in the updated cover for the Beatles Sgt. Pepper’s Lonely Hearts Club Band album.
- Damien Hirst runs a factory-like studio to create his works. He relies on the help of assistants. In 1999, for example, two of his assistants painted around 300 of Hirst’s famous spot paintings.
- In 2010, Hirst’s personal wealth was valued at more than £230 million, making him Britain’s wealthiest artist.
- He is friends with the Rolling Stone’s Ronnie Wood, and snooker player Ronnie O’Sullivan.
- His 2021 NFT project The Currency consisted of 10,000 hand-painted dot artworks on paper with corresponding NFTs. The project generated more than $25 million.
- He has three sons, Connor, Cassius, and Cyrus.
- He is big fan of the Beatles.
I just wanted to find out where the boundaries were. I’ve found out there aren’t any. I wanted to be stopped but no one will stop me.Damien Hirst
Other Damien Hirst Information
Does Damien Hirst use already dead animals?
For 1992’s The Physical Impossibility of Death in the Mind of Someone Living Damien Hirst commissioned an Australian fisherman to catch him a shark. He paid him £6000.
His 1990 work One Thousand Years features a rotting cow skull that breeds live maggots that then turn into flies. Many of the flies are killed by the bug zapper installed in the artwork.
Some of the animals used in Hirst’s work were dead before they were sold to Hirst, and others were killed to order.
It is estimated by artnet that Hirst’s art work has used the bodies of more than 30 farm animals, 600 sea creatures, and hundreds of thousands of insects.
What are Damien Hirst’s influences?
Damien Hirst’s conceptual art was influenced by Michael Craig-Martin’s An Oak Tree and the work of Jeff Koons and Marcel Duchamp. His painting was influenced by the work of Francis Bacon, and his factory-like studio setup was inspired by the studios of Andy Warhol.
I don’t believe in genius. I believe in freedom. I think anyone can do it. Anyone can be like Rembrandt.Damien Hirst, 2009