Damien Hirst (b. 1965) is an English conceptual artist and entrepreneur known for his controversial take on mortality, religion, and existentialism. He was a member of the Young British Artists movement, which dominated the art scene in the UK in the 1990s. While a student at Goldsmith College in London, he caught the attention of gallerist and collector Charles Saatchi, who became one of Hirst’s earliest patrons. In 1988, he organized the groundbreaking Freeze exhibition, which included several YBA artists and fellow students, which helped launch his career.
Hirst’s work is a curious assortment of taxidermy, medicine cabinets, diamond-encrusted skulls, and spin paintings. One of his most notable series, Natural History, features dead animals–such as shark, a sheep, or a cow–some of which were dissected, preserved in formaldehyde-filled tanks. His best known piece was The Physical Impossibility of Death in the Mind of Someone Living (1991), a large vitrine containing a suspended tiger shark. In 1995, he won the prestigious Turner Award for Mother and Child, a sculpture of a cow and her calf, subverting traditional depictions of Mother Mary and Jesus. Over the years, he has exhibited with the Serpentine Gallery in London, The Wallace Collection in London, the Musée Océanographique de Monaco in Monaco, and Haunch of Venison in Berlin. In 2008, he shocked the art establishment by selling 223 works by auction at Sotheby’s and sidestepping his long-standing galleries, an unprecedented move for a living artist.
Hirst currently lives and works in London. His work can be seen in collections worldwide, including the Tate Gallery in London, UK, MoMA in New York, the Hirshhorn Museum and Sculpture Garden in Washington DC, the National Galleries of Scotland in Edinburgh, UK, and the Rubell Family Collection in Miami.