Damien Hirst is one of the most successful and celebrated artists of his generation. He was born in Bristol in 1965 and attended Goldsmiths College from 1986 to 1989 and has since exhibited widely and participated in numerous group exhibitions including Into Me / Out of Me, P.S.1 Contemporary Art Center, New York (2006), In-A-Gadda-Da-Vida, Tate Britain, the 50th Venice Biennale (2003) and Century City, Tate Modern (2001). He received the DAAD fellowship in Berlin in 1994 and the Turner Prize in 1995. He is distinguished for his landmark sale at Sotheby’s in September 2008, which made over £110 million.
Hirst’s work explores the uncertainty at the core of human experience: love, life, death, loyalty and betrayal through unexpected and unconventional media. Damien Hirst’s first ever silver sculpture was created for Sterling Stuff I in 2002. Entitled Sadness it is a moving and ambiguous pill sculpture. Since 2002 he has continued to experiment in silver, and his 8ft tall Grotesque Unicorn – The Dream is Dead highlights this exploration. It is an astonishing surreal assemblage - a dramatic challenge to the idealistic connotations associated with unicorns. Speaking of his experiences working in silver Hirst said:
“Silver is one of the elements, one of the building blocks of our material world. It is a symbol of value and preciousness loaded with association even before you make it into anything. Apart from any of that it represents wealth and stature, shines like the moon and is an incredibly beautiful and seductive material. So when Pangolin asked me if I would make a piece for ‘Sterling Stuff’ I agreed. Silver used to be mined in Combe Martin where I live, Queen Victoria’s jewellery was made from silver mined here. In ancient times artists drew with a stick of silver – it has a slightly graphic feel. Textures and edges feel crisper than bronze. It’s dreamy, other-worldly but also sensuous and sexy – natural to make sculpture with. I think I may have just begun to tap into its potential. Silver seems to magically throw out more light than it absorbs.”