Damien Hirst was born in Bristol in 1965. He studied at Jacob Kramer College of Art, Leeds, 1983 - 1985 and at Goldsmiths College, University of London, 1986 - 1989. He curated the now legendary exhibition Freeze in 1988 whilst still a student. Freeze was the first of a group of exhibitions organised and curated by young artists in the late 1980s and early 1990s. These exhibitions signalled a change in the artistic landscape of Britain and many of the exhibited artists went on to establish international reputations in the subsequent decade, while Hirst was to become the most famous artist of his generation and a household name. Hirst lives and works in London, Gloucestershire and Devon.
Hirst's work has been shown in many important group shows including: Un Siècle de Sculpture Anglaise, Galerie National du Jeu de Paume, Paris 1996; Sensation: Young British Artists from the Saatchi Collection, Royal Academy of Arts, London, 1997; and Blast to Freeze: British Art in the 20th Century, Kunstmuseum Wolfsburg, 2002 – 2003, as well as over 80 solo exhibitions. Hirst’s first major retrospective was held in the Museo Archeologico Nazionale in Naples in 2004 and his first UK retrospective was held in Tate Modern in 2012. Hirst was awarded the Turner Prize at the Tate Gallery, London in 1995.
Damien Hirst works with a wide array of materials and across numerous art forms. He tackles the big subjects of love, life and death, and his titles say as much, as in his most renowned work The Physical Impossibility of Death in the Mind of Someone Living of 1991, which features a 12-foot tiger shark floating in a glass tank of formaldehyde.
Medical and pharmaceutical references feature prominently in his work, as with I'll love you forever of 1994, which incorporates a locked steel cage containing clinical and pharmaceutical waste containers. It is one of three vitrine sculptures Hirst made using medical waste containers, the others titled I still love you and I love everything about you, each making illusions to an absent body, referring to the transience of life and raising questions about the romanticism versus realism of the declaration of love stated in the title.
The Last Supper was Damien Hirst’s his first major body of prints. Hirst based the designs on specific pharmaceutical packets, but with the original drug names replaced by everyday British café food. The portfolio demonstrates Hirst’s interest in the visual appeal of medical packaging, which he has likened to the work of American Minimalist artists Donald Judd and Sol LeWitt.
The Last Supper was originally shown as part of ‘Art in Sacred Spaces’ (2000), in which exhibitions were held in practising places of worship across London with the intention of creating a dialogue between artists and faith communities. It is an example of Hirst’s ongoing examination of the role of religion and science in contemporary society. In this work the thirteen pharmaceutical packets replace the thirteen people present at the biblical account of Jesus’s Last Supper, whilst the names of the medicines have been replaced popular foods.