Brittany Victoria Simmonds
Damien Hirst: Coping with the inevitability of death
Damien Hirst, For the Love of God, 2007, platinum, diamond, human teeth. (top)
My thesis will examine Damien Hirst’s exploration of the power of religion, healing, and beauty in coping with the inevitability of death. Death and the preservation of life are themes for Hirst in much of his work, ranging between installations, sculptures, paintings and drawings. Hirst explores the uncertainty of human experience; life, death, deterioration and self-preservation. Hirst’s pharmacy and medicine cabinets demonstrate his fascination with science and medicine as it relates to religion. Medicine and drugs are recurring themes in Hirst’s work as means of altering perception and providing a temporary escape from sickness, pain and ultimately death. His butterfly pieces, which question the meaning, fragility, and brevity of existence, will be examined. Hirst is best known for his natural history series of preserved dead animals in vitrines, most notable a shark, sheep and a cow. Some of the animals are dissected and immersed in formaldehyde, inferring perpetual yet decaying life. Hirst’s natural history series in relation to taxidermy, cabinets of curiosity and ancient Egyptian mummification, will be examined. His religious pieces, most notable his diamond-encrusted human skull, will be explored as a modern twist on the traditional memento mori image and the vanitas themes. In For the Love of God as in most of his work, Hirst juxtaposes death with life giving the viewer the hope of delaying the inevitable.
Slideshow coming son