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Damien Hirst (born 1965) is an English artist who is undoubtedly one of the most important and controversial living artists. In 1988, while still a student at Goldsmiths University, Hirst organized the now famous group exhibition, ‘Freeze’, which has been credited as the launch of the ‘YBAs’ (Young British Artists). Included in an exhibition at the Saatchi Gallery in 1992 was Hirst’s “The Physical Impossibility of Death in the Mind of Someone Living”, a tiger shark suspended in formaldehyde encased in a vitrine. This technique, and the meditation on mortality, is a theme carried through much of Hirst’s work. Equally emblematic are Hirst’s series of variably colored dots, and his butterfly paintings. In 1995 Hirst was awarded the Turner Prize and three years later published his autobiography.


Opening on the same morning as the Lehman Brothers bankruptcy in 2008, an auction of Hirst’s new work at Sotheby’s defied all expectations and raised $200,000,000, making Hirst’s work among the most expensive for a living artist. Most recently, in what many critics have seen as the artist’s biggest challenge to himself yet, Hirst has retreated from his professional studio to his garden shed to return to the basics of painting oil on canvas.

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