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A few weeks ago, Damian Hirst's latest creation graced the cover of the New York Times Sunday Magazine (as well as getting coverage on many a blog). The subject was his latest creation, the world's most expensive piece of art. A life sized platinum skull set with diamonds.
This article reprinted below by William Shaw accompanied the piece:
It’s particularly fitting that the title of Damien Hirst’s new headline-grabbing work came from an exasperated exclamation of his mother’s: “For the love of God, what are you going to do next?”
The answer, pictured here, is a life-size platinum skull set with 8,601 high-quality diamonds. If, as expected, it sells for around $100 million this month, it will become the single most expensive piece of contemporary art ever created. Or the most outrageous piece of bling.
At home in Devon, Hirst insists it’s absolutely the former. “I was very worried for a while, because if it looked like bling — tacky, garish and over the top — we would have failed. But I’m very pleased with the end result. I think it’s ethereal and timeless.”
For Hirst, famous pickler of sharks and bovine bisector, all his art is about death. This piece, which was cast from an 18th-century skull he bought in London, was influenced by Mexican skulls encrusted in turquoise. “I remember thinking it would be great to do a diamond one — but just prohibitively expensive,” he recalls. “Then I started to think — maybe that’s why it is a good thing to do. Death is such a heavy subject, it would be good to make something that laughed in the face of it.”
The dazzle of the diamonds might outshine any meaning Hirst attaches to it, and that could be a problem. Its value as jewelry alone is preposterous. Hirst, who financed the piece himself, watched for months as the price of international diamonds rose while the Bond Street gem dealer Bentley & Skinner tried to corner the market for the artist’s benefit. Given the ongoing controversy over blood diamonds from Africa, “For the Love of God” now has the potential to be about death in a more literal way.
“That’s when you stop laughing,” Hirst says. “You might have created something that people might die because of. I guess I felt like Oppenheimer or something. What have I done? Because it’s going to need high security all its life.”
The piece is not exactly the stuff of public art, but Hirst says he hopes that an institution like the British Museum might put it on display for a while before it disappears into a vault, never to be seen again. Whether the piece is seen or not, Hirst will likely go down in the Guinness Book of Records as the world’s most extravagant artist.
“I hadn’t thought about that!” he suddenly snorts with laughter. “I deal with that with all my work. The markup on paint and canvas is a hell of a lot more than on this diamond piece.”
At the going rate of 100 million dollars, chances are you won't be buying it.
But now, a London gallery is selling limited edition prints of this piece, still pricey at 10,000+ USD, but a mere pittance compared to $100,000,000.00
In conjunction with Damien Hirst’s exhibition ‘Beyond Belief’, White Cube Gallery announce the release of eight new limited edition works.
These works include a series of silkscreens depicting Hirst’s extraordinary diamond skull ‘For the Love of God’, a life-size cast of a human skull in platinum, covered entirely by 8,601 VVS to flawless pavé-set diamonds. In addition to these silkscreens there are three works on canvas, each with paracetamol pills and syringes. These relate closely to the new series of ‘Fact’ and ‘Biopsy’ paintings which focus upon issues surrounding Western medicine, and continue Hirst’s long standing interest in the themes of life and death.
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A little about DAMIAN HIRST:
Damien Hirst was born in Bristol, England in 1965. While still a student at Goldsmith's College in 1988, he curated the now renowned student exhibition, Freeze, held in east London. In this exhibition, Hirst brought together a group of young artists who would come to define cutting-edge contemporary art in the 1990s. In 1991, he had his first solo exhibition at the Woodstock Street Gallery, entitled In and Out of Love, in which he filled the gallery with hundreds of live tropical butterflies, some of which were hatched from the monochrome canvases that hung the walls. In 1992, he was part of the ground breaking Young British Artists exhibition at the Saatchi Gallery. In this show, he exhibited his now famous Physical Impossibility of Death in the Mind of Someone Living, a tiger shark in a glass tank of formaldehyde. That same year he was nominated for the prestigious Tate Gallery Turner Prize, and later won that coveted award in 1995.
Hirst's best known works are his paintings, medicine cabinet sculptures, and glass tank installations. For the most part, his paintings have taken on two styles. One is an arrangement of color spots with titles that refer to pharmaceutical chemicals, known as Spot paintings. The second, his Spin paintings, are created by centrifugal force, when Hirst places his canvases on a spinner, and pours the paint as they spin. In the medicine cabinet pieces Hirst redefines sculpture with his arrangements of various drugs, surgical tools, and medical supplies. His tank pieces, which contain dead animals, that are preserved in formaldehyde, are another kind of sculpture and directly address the inevitable mortality of all living beings. All of Hirst's works contain his ironic wit, and question art's role in contemporary culture.
Hirst's first exhibition with Gagosian Gallery, entitled No Sense of Absolute Corruption, was in 1996 at the now-closed SoHo location in New York. Superstition is Damien Hirst's first show at the Beverly Hills space.
For the Official Damien Hirst Website, click here.