Damien Hirst has become one of the most prominent artists of his generation. Many of his works are widely recognized, from the shark suspended in formaldehyde, “The Physical Impossibility of Death in the Mind of Someone Living”, and his spot, spin and butterfly paintings, through to later works such as the diamond skull “For the Love of God”.
Throughout his work, Hirst investigates and challenges contemporary belief systems, and dissects the tensions and uncertainties at the heart of human experience. Hirst takes a direct approach to ideas about existence, exploring the complex relationship between art, life, death and religion. His work calls into question our awareness and convictions about the boundaries that separate desire and fear, reason and faith, love and hate.
By using the tools and iconography of science and religion, he blurs the lines between science, religion, and art, giving the viewer the horror of immortality and the brilliance of reality. Death is a central theme in Hirst’s art work. He gives his audience an open mouth astonishment while challenging the viewer to confront the inevitability of existence. He became famous for a series of artworks in which dead animals (including a shark, a sheep and a cow) are preserved—sometimes having been dissected—in formaldehyde. The best known of these being "The Physical Impossibility of Death in the Mind of Someone Living", a 14-foot tiger shark immersed in formaldehyde in a vitrine.
In September 2008, he took an unprecedented move for a living artist by selling a complete show, "Beautiful Inside My Head Forever", at Sotheby's by auction and by-passing his long-standing galleries. The auction exceeded all predictions, raising $198 million, breaking the record for a one-artist auction.
Since 1987, over 80 solo shows of Damien Hirst exhibitions have taken place worldwide, and his work has been included in over 260 group shows. His contributions to art over the last two and a half decades was recognized in 2012 with a major retrospective of his work at the Tate Modern.