Born 1965 in Bristol Damien Hirst grew up in Leeds, and at age 16 was visiting the anatomy department of Leeds Medical School in order to draw corpses. Now an artwork in itself, the photograph ‘With Dead Head’ of Hirst aged 16 holding a dead man’s head conveys his curiosity with death, a trajectory he would follow throughout his career.
In 1984, Hirst moved to London, working in construction for two years before enrolling at Goldsmiths College to study Fine Art. In his second year, Hirst independently organised Freeze, exhibiting his and his contemporary’s artworks, becoming the figurehead of the Young British Artists movement of the late 1980s.
Through the influence of Goldsmiths lecturer Michael Craig-Martin, Charles Saatchi appeared at Freeze and would later purchase Hirst’s first animal installation A Thousand Years, two years later.
Co-created by Hirst and the Serpentine Gallery, the group exhibition Broken English and Hirst’s first solo show In and Out of Love brought him to the attention of Saatchi, who offered him a blank check and asked him to feature in Young British Artists I at the Saatchi Gallery. Saatchi’s support culminated in Hirst’s first Turner Prize nomination for The Physical Impossibility of Death, 1992.
The Venice Biennale of 1993 was Hirst’s first international presentation, while his solo show at the Serpentine in 1994 and the Young British Artists group exhibition at the Royal Academy was seen as the critical acceptance of the YBAs.
The Turner Prize win in 1995 and his fist show in the Gagosnian Gallery in New York allowed him to branch out, directing the music video for Blur’s Country House and writing the screenplay to the short film, Hanging Around.
Archival inkjet print with silkscreen printed text and UV varnish on Hahnemühle Photo Luster 260gsm