Animal Study, 1984

by Damien Hirst


DIMENSIONS: 26.5 x 34.0 inches (67.3 x 86.4 cm)
SIGNATURE: Signed ‘Damien Hirst 1984’, lower right
MEDIUM: Acrylic on paper


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    Catalogue No: 6877 Categories: , Tags: ,

    This early work by Damien Hirst predates his first solo exhibition at the Woodstock Street Gallery in London in 1991, and his controversial series’ involving animals.

    But there does certainly seem to be a correlation between the themes exhibited in this painting and his later works.

    This painting may point to a preliminary study of animals, and Hirst’s obsession with opposition. His works pivot on a binary of death versus life, darkness versus joy.

    Reminiscent of Mother and Child Divided, where animals were quite literally bisected, Animal Study, 1984, features halves of different breeds of farm animals spliced together to create the image of an animal in its entirety, once again hinting at Hirst’s fascination with dualism.

    Private Collection, UK

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    Born in Bristol in 1965, Hirst was raised Catholic and grew up in Leeds. His early religious education is something that later factors into his artwork. Early on he showed an interest in drawing, which was supported by his mother. He also developed an interest in illustrated pathology books, fascinated by the images of disease and injury.

    Hirst’s widely recognised and often controversial works include a dissected cow and her calf, two huge windowless exhibition rooms swirling with tropical butterflies hatched from pupae pinned to canvasses, and the platinum cast of a human skull set with 8,601 diamonds. His work calls into question our awareness and convictions about the boundaries that separate life and death, beauty and horror, reason and faith, desire and fear, and the tireless theme of love and hate. Often using the iconography of science and religion, Hirst creates sculptures and paintings whose intensity transcends our familiar understanding of these concepts.

    Damien Hirst is among the most prominent artists of his generation and one of the most celebrated members of the Y.B.As, (Young British Artists). His professional career spans over 30 years and continues to this day. From 2021 to 2022, Hirst’s series Cherry Blossoms was exhibited at the Foundation Cartier in Paris.

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