Education and Early Career
Damien studied at Goldsmiths College at the University of London among several other esteemed contemporary artists - including Fiona Rae and Sarah Lucas - who formed the YBA. Their innovative use of abstract materials attracted the attention of art tycoon Charles Saatchi who agreed to financially support Damien, paving the way for his groundbreaking career. Damien was nominated for the Turner Prize in 1992 for his first YBA exhibition at the Saatchi Gallery. Then, in 1993, his first major international exhibition took place at the Venice Biennale. The artist went on to win the Turner Prize in 1995, and has since continued to soar.
Hirstian Themes and Collections
Damien’s practice explores ideas around duality; life and death, beauty and horror, and the sacred and the macabre. Mortality and our attempt to understand death is a central theme in his work. Among his multimedia installations, one of the most iconic pieces of the late 20th-century is his acclaimed 22-ton shark preserved in formaldehyde, extravagantly named The Physical Impossibility of Death in the Mind of Someone Living (1991). Along the same vein, there’s Mother and Child Divided (1993), a bisected cow and calf suspended in four tanks. Both sculptural pieces also reflect Damien’s enduring interest in collecting and in the relationship between science and art. The artist, now living in Devon with his family, continues to make art with the ability to transcend the viewer into unfamiliar territories.