Belfast Telegraph

Saturday 28 February 2015

Pictured: Damien Hirst's most outrageous work on display

Damian Hirst's 1991 work 'The Physical Impossibility of Death in the Mind of Someone Living' during the opening of his solo exhibition at the Tate Modern in central London.
Damian Hirst's 1991 work 'The Physical Impossibility of Death in the Mind of Someone Living' during the opening of his solo exhibition at the Tate Modern in central London.
Damian Hirst's 1991 work 'The Physical Impossibility of Death in the Mind of Someone Living' during the opening of his solo exhibition at the Tate Modern in central London
Damien Hirst replica plastic skulls for sale in the gift shop at the Tate Modern for £36,800 each during the opening of his solo exhibition at the Tate Modern in central London
Artist Damien Hirst poses in front of his artwork entitled 'The Physical Impossibility of Death in the Mind of Someone Living' in the Tate Modern art gallery on April 2, 2012 in London, England. The Tate Modern is displaying the first major exhibition of Damien Hirst's artworks in the UK, bringing together the collection over 70 of Hirst's works spanning three decades. The exhibition opens to the general public on April 4, 2012 and runs until September 9, 2012. (Photo by Oli Scarff/Getty Images)
LONDON, ENGLAND - APRIL 02: Artist Damien Hirst poses in front of his artwork entitled 'I am Become Death, Shatterer of Worlds' in the Tate Modern art gallery on April 2, 2012 in London, England. The Tate Modern is displaying the first major exhibition of Damien Hirst's artworks in the UK, bringing together the collection over 70 of Hirst's works spanning three decades. The exhibition opens to the general public on April 4, 2012 and runs until September 9, 2012. (Photo by Oli Scarff/Getty Images)
LONDON, ENGLAND - APRIL 02: Artist Damien Hirst poses in front of his artwork entitled 'I am Become Death, Shatterer of Worlds' in the Tate Modern art gallery on April 2, 2012 in London, England. The Tate Modern is displaying the first major exhibition of Damien Hirst's artworks in the UK, bringing together the collection over 70 of Hirst's works spanning three decades. The exhibition opens to the general public on April 4, 2012 and runs until September 9, 2012. (Photo by Oli Scarff/Getty Images)
LONDON, ENGLAND - APRIL 02: People view a fly-covered cow's head, part of an artwork by Damien Hirst entitled 'A Thousand Years' in the Tate Modern art gallery on April 2, 2012 in London, England. The Tate Modern is displaying the first major exhibition of Damien Hirst's artworks in the UK, bringing together the collection over 70 of Hirst's works spanning three decades. The exhibition opens to the general public on April 4, 2012 and runs until September 9, 2012. (Photo by Oli Scarff/Getty Images)
LONDON, ENGLAND - APRIL 02: Artist Damien Hirst poses in front of his artwork entitled 'I am Become Death, Shatterer of Worlds' in the Tate Modern art gallery on April 2, 2012 in London, England. The Tate Modern is displaying the first major exhibition of Damien Hirst's artworks in the UK, bringing together the collection over 70 of Hirst's works spanning three decades. The exhibition opens to the general public on April 4, 2012 and runs until September 9, 2012. (Photo by Oli Scarff/Getty Images)
LONDON, ENGLAND - APRIL 02: Artist Damien Hirst poses in front of his artwork entitled 'The Physical Impossibility of Death in the Mind of Someone Living' in the Tate Modern art gallery on April 2, 2012 in London, England. The Tate Modern is displaying the first major exhibition of Damien Hirst's artworks in the UK, bringing together the collection over 70 of Hirst's works spanning three decades. The exhibition opens to the general public on April 4, 2012 and runs until September 9, 2012. (Photo by Oli Scarff/Getty Images)
LONDON, ENGLAND - APRIL 02: Artist Damien Hirst poses in front of his artwork entitled 'The Physical Impossibility of Death in the Mind of Someone Living' in the Tate Modern art gallery on April 2, 2012 in London, England. The Tate Modern is displaying the first major exhibition of Damien Hirst's artworks in the UK, bringing together the collection over 70 of Hirst's works spanning three decades. The exhibition opens to the general public on April 4, 2012 and runs until September 9, 2012. (Photo by Oli Scarff/Getty Images)
LONDON, ENGLAND - APRIL 02: Artist Damien Hirst poses in front of his artwork entitled 'The Physical Impossibility of Death in the Mind of Someone Living' in the Tate Modern art gallery on April 2, 2012 in London, England. The Tate Modern is displaying the first major exhibition of Damien Hirst's artworks in the UK, bringing together the collection over 70 of Hirst's works spanning three decades. The exhibition opens to the general public on April 4, 2012 and runs until September 9, 2012. (Photo by Oli Scarff/Getty Images)
A couple in a cherry picker check details on the Damien Hirst sculpture Hymn outside the Tate Modern, London, ahead of a Damien Hirst exhibition which opens on April 4
LONDON, ENGLAND - APRIL 02: Live butterflies sit in a bowl of fruit in an installation 'In and Out of Love' by Damien Hirst in the Tate Modern art gallery on April 2, 2012 in London, England. The Tate Modern is displaying the first major exhibition of Damien Hirst's artworks in the UK, bringing together the collection over 70 of Hirst's works spanning three decades. The exhibition opens to the general public on April 4, 2012 and runs until September 9, 2012. (Photo by Oli Scarff/Getty Images)
LONDON, ENGLAND - APRIL 02: A man views artwork by Damien Hirst in the Tate Modern art gallery on April 2, 2012 in London, England. The Tate Modern is displaying the first major exhibition of Damien Hirst's artworks in the UK, bringing together the collection over 70 of Hirst's works spanning three decades. The exhibition opens to the general public on April 4, 2012 and runs until September 9, 2012. (Photo by Oli Scarff/Getty Images)
LONDON, ENGLAND - APRIL 02: Members of the public view artwork by Damien Hirst in the Tate Modern art gallery on April 2, 2012 in London, England. The Tate Modern is displaying the first major exhibition of Damien Hirst's artworks in the UK, bringing together the collection over 70 of Hirst's works spanning three decades. The exhibition opens to the general public on April 4, 2012 and runs until September 9, 2012. (Photo by Oli Scarff/Getty Images)
LONDON, ENGLAND - APRIL 02: Members of the public view artwork by Damien Hirst entitled 'The Physical Impossibility of Death in the Mind of Someone Living' in the Tate Modern art gallery on April 2, 2012 in London, England. The Tate Modern is displaying the first major exhibition of Damien Hirst's artworks in the UK, bringing together the collection over 70 of Hirst's works spanning three decades. The exhibition opens to the general public on April 4, 2012 and runs until September 9, 2012. (Photo by Oli Scarff/Getty Images)
A woman looks at a butterfly in a display room entitled 'In and Out of Love (White Paintings and Live Butterflies)' during the launch of the exhibition by British artist Damien Hirst at the Tate Modern in central London. PRESS ASSOCIATION Photo. Picture date: Monday April 2, 2012. Photo credit should read: Lewis Whyld/PA Wire
LONDON, ENGLAND - APRIL 02: A live butterfly lands on a security camera in an installation 'In and Out of Love' by Damien Hirst in the Tate Modern art gallery on April 2, 2012 in London, England. The Tate Modern is displaying the first major exhibition of Damien Hirst's artworks in the UK, bringing together the collection over 70 of Hirst's works spanning three decades. The exhibition opens to the general public on April 4, 2012 and runs until September 9, 2012. (Photo by Oli Scarff/Getty Images)
LONDON, ENGLAND - APRIL 02: Members of the public view artwork by Damien Hirst entitled 'The Physical Impossibility of Death in the Mind of Someone Living' in the Tate Modern art gallery on April 2, 2012 in London, England. The Tate Modern is displaying the first major exhibition of Damien Hirst's artworks in the UK, the collection brings together over 70 of Hirst's works spanning three decades. The exhibition opens to the general public on April 4, 2012 and runs until September 9, 2012. (Photo by Oli Scarff/Getty Images)
A woman looks at the gallery-sized installation 'Pharmacy' during the launch of the exhibition by British artist Damien Hirst at the Tate Modern in central London
Artist Damien Hirst's platinum cast of a human skull is shown covered with 8,601 ethically sourced diamonds and is estimated to be worth over £50m. Titled 'For the Love of God', the original skull was examined by forensic experts, who concluded that it was male, probably of European origin and about 35-years-old at the time of death. Radiocarbon analysis suggests that he lived some time between 1720 and 1810
Legend by Damien Hirst in the gardens of Chatsworth House on September 9, 2011 in Chatsworth, England
Damien Hirst stands with two of his paintings at Sotheby's auction 'Beautiful Inside My Head Forever' on September 8, 2008 in London
Visitors look at Damien Hirst's 'The Kingdom' featuring a tiger shark in formaldehyde at Sotheby's auction 'Beautiful Inside My Head Forever' on September 8, 2008 in London
A member of the press peers at the Damien Hirst piece named 'Death Explained', a disected shark suspended in 2 separate containers in acrylic and formaldehyde solution on June 1, 2007 in London
A gallery employee stands in between the Damien Hirst piece named 'Love's Paradox' on June 1, 2007 in London
Buyer Carlito Briones holds two postcards by Damien Hirst at the Royal College of Art (RCA) on November 25, 2005 in London. The annual RCA Secret exhibition and sale has attracted 2700 postcard sized works of art from artists and designers from all over the world. Buyers queued overnight to buy a card for £35 - not knowing who the artist is until purchase
A woman views Damien Hirst's collection of artworks and original designs at the Sotheby's sale preview of contents from the Pharmacy restaurant October 14, 2004 in London, England. The Notting Hill restaurant was designed by Damien Hirst and was one of the most successfull during London's vibrant restaurant scene from 1998 to 2003

Damien Hirst merchandise, from a deckchair to a plastic skull, is on sale for eye-watering price tags of up to £36,800 at the first UK retrospective of the controversial British artist.

The items can be snapped up at Tate Modern's highly-anticipated show, which opens just days after a critic and former curator urged owners of Hirst's work to sell quickly before "the penny drops".

The show, entitled Damien Hirst, features some new work in the form of diamond and butterfly-decorated wallpaper, and highlights from the 46-year-old's phenomenally successful career.

Hirst's installation In And Out Of Love is shown for the first time since its creation in 1991, comprising a room full of live butterflies, feeding on sugar water and fruit which visitors are advised to go through at a "steady, slow pace", next to an adjoining room of dead butterflies on monochrome canvases.

Visitors will be assaulted by the smell of dying flies and a rotting cow's head in A Thousand Years (1990), where flies emerge from maggots, eat from the animal's head and die on an Insectocutor.

For The Love Of God, the human skull covered in 8,601 flawless diamonds - the work Hirst says he is most proud of - is on display at Tate Modern's Turbine Hall, with its own security.

The retrospective also features a shark suspended in formaldehyde in The Physical Impossibility of Death In the Mind Of Someone Living (1991), Hirst's largest spot painting, the Pharmacy (1992) installation of medicine bottles, spin paintings, and hundreds of used cigarettes in a giant ashtray in Crematorium (1996).

At the end of the exhibition, which opens on Wednesday, visitors can spend £700 on a limited edition roll of butterfly wallpaper, or part with £36,800 for a plastic skull decorated with "household gloss" in the style of one of Hirst's spin paintings.

Other objects on sale include a butterfly-print deckchair for £310, and a spot painting-style skateboard "stamped with signature" for £480.

Hirst said he had been asked to do a retrospective since he was 28, but he had shied away from the idea.

"I think I was avoiding it because I was afraid of it in some ways," he said. "The idea is more frightening than the reality. You have to get to the point when you are ready to look back."

Hirst, who is now making paintings with scalpel blades and using bugs in his studio, said of his retrospective: "It seems more about life than death to me. It's optimistic, fun, full of beans. I definitely expected it to be shabbier."

He said of his show: "I am proud of it. It all feels strong and sober. You fear that it's going to be dusty, in cobwebs and meaningless like a lot of stuff in this world."

He described his own work as "traditional art", adding: "You want art that sits in the history of art quite comfortably.

"I'm also looking for timelessness. You watch Vic and Bob on TV or Spitting Image and it doesn't have any meaning and it was great at the time. As an artist you're afraid that's going to happen to you."

He defended his work following criticism from art critic and former curator Julian Spalding, who described conceptual art as "con art".

Hirst said that the comment was "more about selling a book than selling art" and that he would advise anyone who had bought one of his pieces to "keep them on for a few more spins of the roulette wheel".

"People don't like contemporary art but all art starts out as contemporary," he said.

Hirst defended the merchandise at his retrospective, saying: "You get the Mona Lisa and then you get the postcards, the T-shirts, the mouse-pad, the earrings and the mugs.

"One thing is the artwork and the other is getting it out there and I've always been torn between the two."

He said: "A painting probably has the most shocking increase in value than what it cost to make but you'd never look at a Rembrandt and say that's just wood and canvas and paint and say 'how much?"'

Asked whether the plastic skull selling for £36,800 would hold its value, he replied: "Maybe on eBay you might be all right for a bit."

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