I was taught to confront things you can’t avoid. Death is one of those things. To live in a society where you’re trying not to look at it is stupid because looking at death throws us back into life with more vigour and energy. The fact that flowers don’t last for ever makes them beautiful.
—— Damien Hirst
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. Hirst was born in 1965 in Bristol and grew up in Leeds. In 1984 he moved to London, where he worked in construction before studying for a BA in Fine Art at Goldsmiths college from 1986 to 1989. Hirst first came to public attention in London in 1988 when he conceived and curated “Freeze,” an exhibition in a disused warehouse that showed his work and that of his friends and fellow students at Goldsmiths College. 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. He was awarded the Turner Prize in 1995. Since the late 1980’s, Hirst has used a varied practise of installation, sculpture, painting and drawing to explore the complex relationship between art, life and death.Hirst’s work investigates and challenges contemporary belief systems, and dissects the tensions and uncertainties at the heart of human experience. Over 80 solo Damien Hirst exhibitions have taken place worldwide since the late 1980s and his work has been included in over 260 group shows. Hirst’s first major retrospective ‘The Agony and the Ecstasy’ was held in the Museo Archeologico Nazionale in Naples in 2004. His contribution to British art over the last two and a half decades was recognised in 2012 with a major retrospective of his work staged at Tate Modern. Hirst lives and works in London, Gloucestershire and Devon.