Biography of Damien Hirst
As much a showman as an artist, Damien Hirst's vaulted ambition and natural charisma quickly propelled him into the public eye and to the very center of the art world. Hirst is indisputably the most recognizable artist to emerge from the YBAs in the late 1980s. His humble upbringing in Leeds—that saw him twice arrested for shoplifting—was shrugged aside as he launched himself into the art stratosphere. During his second year at Goldsmiths College, Hirst famously curated and organized the exhibition Freeze, 1988 that helped kickstart the YBAs and kindled his long-standing and fruitful relationship with the collector Charles Saatchi.
An everyman's existentialist, Hirst's focus on death and the grisly are always undertaken with a wry sense of humor. Well-known for his dissected animals in formaldehyde-filled vitrines and his medical cabinet sculptures, the extraordinary imagination of Hirst sees him continually confronting the boundaries of art and attacking notions of what is acceptable. The fabrication of much of his later work has been undertaken by highly trained studio assistants. His series of spin paintings, for instance, have been produced at a rate of 60 per year for the past three decades.
Self-publicist, sensationalist, even morbid, whatever criticism is hurled at Hirst he uses to his advantage and has since become one of the wealthiest artists working today. His decision to bypass galleries and sell directly to the public through Sotheby's in 2008 was an unprecedented move typical of his bravura and one that brought him enormous success. Born in 1965, Hirst was awarded the prestigious Turner Prize in London in 1995. He is one of the most in demand and popular artists in the world and has had major solo shows in the Rijksmuseum in Amsterdam in 2008 and a retrospective of his work was held at Tate Modern in 2012. His multiples and editions are diverse and beautifully crafted and, like everything else he has produced, unsettling and enthralling.