Damien Hirst is a British Conceptual artist known for his controversial take on beauty and found-art objects. Along with Liam Gillick, Tracey Emin, and Sarah Lucas, Hirst was part of the Young British Artists movement that rose to prominence in the early 1990s. “I have always been aware that you have to get people listening before you can change their minds,” he reflected. “Any artist’s big fear is being ignored, so if you get debate, that’s great.” Born on June 7, 1965 in Bristol, United Kingdom, Hirst was raised in Leeds. As a student at Goldsmiths College in London, his work caught the eye of the collector and gallerist Charles Saatchi, who became an early patron. Hirst’s The Physical Impossibility of Death in the Mind of Someone Living (1991)—a large vitrine containing an Australian tiger shark suspended in formaldehyde—was financed by Saatchi and helped to launch the artist’s career. Hirst went on to win the coveted Turner Prize in 1995. In 2012, he showed what went on to be one of his most controversial work in decades, the installation In and Out of Love, which consisted of two white windowless rooms in which over 9,000 butterflies flitted around and died. The artist lives and works in London, United Kingdom. His works are held in the collections of the Tate Gallery in London, the Hirshhorn Museum and Sculpture Garden in Washington, D.C., and the Rubell Family Collection in Miami.
Damien Hirst: Genius or Con Artist? by Sarah Kent (theartsdesk.com)
The following year he filled an empty shop in Woodstock Street, off Oxford Street, with live insects. Hatching from pupae attached to blank canvases, huge Malaysian butterflies floated about in tropical heat and humidity, sipped sugar water, mated and laid their eggs. In and Out of Love was far more seductive than A Thousand Years; whereas flies are associated with death and decay, butterflies bring to mind meadows, flowers and fresh air, and, for Victorians, they symbolised the soul ascending to heaven.