He thinks sausages are ‘stupid’ but ‘sexual’ and that calf in formaldehyde is actually quite personal
Damien Hirst is one of the most successful artists of our time, but he’s also one of the most controversial. While his Instagram is nothing new, recently @damienhirst’s tone has changed to a more direct, personal and insightful look into his art. From general information about his shows and the titles of his works, we now have, seemingly, captions direct from the artist. Some sceptics have raised concerns over the authenticity of it all, commenting: "Are these current reflections indeed by the creator or by an AI assimilation employing algorithmic interpretations? A real time installation piece pervading the digital presence, the author – Deamon Hiest!" But whatever it is, it’s giving us a brilliant look into an artist who has constantly divided opinion. Below, we pulled five things that we’ve learned about the artist since Hirst began to create his own captions.
HIS WORKS WEREN’T ALWAYS AS POLISHED AS WE SEE THEM NOW
Hirst's new-found voice on Instagram takes a confessional tone at times. Captioning his 1988 cardboard-made “Boxes”, the author blurts out: “It looked like something crap made on a kids’ tv show.” What a refreshing message to art students and creative beings everywhere! The idea that every artist – even Damien Hirst – carries his share of less-than-admirable early work, in spite of it seeming “the newest thing on the planet” back then. Similarly nostalgic, Hirst has expressed the wish to remake his first-ever installation of coloured dots, unhappy with the uneven surface of the brick wall he was allocated at the time, a student. “I’d like to paint it again in a white room one day.” In the comments section, a kind spirit’s words read: "Chin up lad, you'll get there one day."
HE LOVES MAGIC
“I love magic”, begins a post dated 11 January. Hirst is talking about “Loving in a World of Desire”, an installation which consists of a brightly coloured beach ball levitating above an air jet. Made in 1996 for the Mental Escapology series and Gagosian Gallery’s No Sense of Absolute Corruption, the artist said in an interview that the brilliantly titled “Loving in a World of Desire” was about how “love becomes problematic when faced with the corruption of the flesh and the idea of creating a world of desire that you meet in advertising.” Basically, Hirst’s toy-like installation attempts to question the viability of love and addresses our tendency to blind ourselves with unrealistic desires. Part-sculpture, part-magic, the floating ball is “like a little miracle” the artist said, not only because of the magic trick, but because it defies art’s strict categories, proclaiming “the birth of an idea or something.”
“THE GOLDEN CALF” IS ACTUALLY A LOT MORE PERSONAL THAN WE FIRST THOUGHT
“The Golden Calf” was originally a part of Beautiful Inside My Head Forever, an unprecedented auction at Sotheby's that bypassed galleries and sold directly to the public. Acquired for the hefty sum of £10.3 million, the artwork looked like yet another display of the author's taste for money and scandal. Encased in a gold vitrine and mounted on marble, the British Charolais bull – preserved in Hirst's resin of choice, formaldehyde – was adorned with no less than 18-carat gold horns, hooves and a halo-like disk. Was the animal worth its weight in gold? Evolving around the artist's recurring themes of death and wealth, his intentions with this piece might have been more personal than it once seemed. “To me”, Hirst says, “it represented the fall of something or the end of an era. The art world had been rocking for a few years and I was selling everything I made. I just felt it couldn’t go on forever.” The artist further conveyed the idea of decadence a year after the auction in 2009, when, unveiling “End of an Era”, visitors found a tank containing the decapitated head of the earlier work.
ONE OF HIS WORKS IS INSPIRED BY JIM CAREY, DA VINCI, STAR TREK AND CHRIST
For someone who is obsessed with death, Damien Hirst's sources of inspirations are not always what you'd expect. Sure, his 1998 human skeleton sectioned by two glass surfaces is a sort of anatomical, sanitised version of Jesus Christ’s crucifixion. Beyond religious icons, Hirst has also said to have been inspired by Leonardo Da Vinci’s classic “Vitruvian Man”. But more light-heartedly, the author’s motivation was to “make a sober looking piece about death but with googly eyes like in the Jim Carey film The Mask.” The sculpture plays with the heavy, obscure symbolism of a skeleton, and associates it with what seem like floating ping-pong balls. With “Rehab is for Quitters”, part of the Mental Escapology series, Hirst showed once more that his work serves a purpose deeper than to merely shock, inspiring viewers to contemplate obscure, and anxiety-inducing subjects. To stay sane, just remember a Star Trek line that the artist has turned into a motto: “death is irrelevant”.
SOMETIMES NOT EVEN HE KNOWS WHAT HIS WORK MEANS
Why would it mean anything? Again and again, throughout his career, Hirst has shown that art can be a humorous break from a sober and often tedious reality. “How stupid is a sausage when you think about it?”, the artist comments on his 1993 series, “11 Sausages”. While some slam him for having “cheapened the notion of Art”, we celebrate the absurdist prankster and these snippets into his universe.