Maxwell's and I Miss You each formed part of one of the most high-profile art installations of the 1990s: Damien Hirst's Pharmacy restaurant. The Notting Hill restaurant was a colossal installation of Hirst's works which saw him pay personnal attention to every detail; from the art on the walls to the glasses, knives and forks in the customers' hands. Even the titles sometimes continued the restaurant theme: Maxwell's was named after the eponymous restaurant, one of the artist's favourite hang-outs in Berlin. As well as being a restaurant, Pharmacy comprised what had been, until the time of its opening in 1998, Hirst's largest single exhibition.
Hirst explained, 'I did Pharmacy because I wanted to make a great place for people to be. It's really simple' (D. Hirst & G. Burn, On the Way to Work, London, 2001, p. 75). And it was a great place for people to be, attracting a constant crowd that often included the celebrities, be they Hollywood stars or YBAs, of the day. There was a deliberately twisted Hirst-like poignancy to the fact that these beautiful people ate and drank under the shadow of such works as his butterfly paintings, implying the presence of a constant memento mori, a testament to the fleeting nature of life and of fame.
Hirst's art, and especially his pharmaceutical-related works such as Maxwell's and indeed the restaurant itself, take as their inspiration the modern obsession with medicine, which has become a substitute for the religion of old. There was a strange, fascinating tension between the medical accoutrements with which the diners and drinkers in Pharmacy were surrounded and the merry goings-on in which they were indulging, and this balance cut to the medical subject-matter that lies at the heart of much of the greatest of Hirst's oeuvre. However, in a sense it was this very tension that he was exploring. As he himself confessed, 'I think I've got an obsession with death, but I think it's like a celebration of life rather than something morbid. You can't have one without the other' (Hirst & Burn, ibid., p. 21). Nothing embodied this more succinctly than Pharmacy, with raw and raucous life taking place surrounded by the reliquaries devoted to the substances that we hope will prolong those lives.