Damien Hirst (b. 1965)
Artist's Resale Right ("Droit de Suite"). Artist's… Read more PROPERTY FROM A PRIVATE EUROPEAN COLLECTION
Damien Hirst (b. 1965)


Damien Hirst (b. 1965)
butterflies on household gloss paint on canvas in artist's frame
96 x 60in. (243.8 x 152.4cm.)
framed dimensions: 117½ x 81½ x 5 3/8in. (298.5 x 207 x 13.5cm.)
Executed in 2003
White Cube, London.
Acquired from the above by the present owner in 2003.
London, White Cube, Damien Hirst: Romance in the Age of Uncertainty, September-October 2003 (illustrated in colour, p. 36 and installation view illustrated in colour, p. 65).
Naples, Museo Archeologico Nazionale, Damien Hirst: The Agony and the Ecstasy, Selected Works from 1989 to 2004, October 2004-January 2005 (illustrated in colour, p. 185).
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Artist's Resale Right ("Droit de Suite"). Artist's Resale Right Regulations 2006 apply to this lot, the buyer agrees to pay us an amount equal to the resale royalty provided for in those Regulations, and we undertake to the buyer to pay such amount to the artist's collection agent. VAT rate of 5% is payable on hammer price and at 17.5% on the buyer's premium. Please note Payments and Collections will be unavailable on Monday 12th July 2010 due to a major update to the Client Accounting IT system. For further details please call +44 (0) 20 7839 9060 or e-mail info@christies.com
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Lot Essay

Monumental in scale and oozing a form of religious light, Devotion was one of two paintings exhibited at Damien Hirst's 2003 exhibition Romance in the Age of Uncertainty, which announced the birth of a major new series of works - the so-called kaleidoscope butterfly paintings. Consisting of a range of butterflies stripped of their bodies and bathed in a pool of gloss paint, their meticulous construction conveys a religious splendour.

The stained glass paintings marked the perfect evolution of the butterfly theme in Hirst's art. His first one-man exhibition, held in 1991, was entitled In and Out of Love and comprised the notorious installation of the same name, whereby butterflies were hatching upstairs, passing their entire cycle of life within the gallery space and eventually dying, while downstairs Hirst showed some of his early butterfly paintings, where the insects were attached to the surface of monochrome canvases as though trapped in the thick wet oils. The stained glass paintings such as Devotion that Hirst first showed in 2003 were the first to remove the body of the insect, showing only the beautiful, shimmering, colourful wings.

Hirst has the great ability to present incredibly complex, sophisticated ideas with an engaging elegance and simplicity of means. Nowhere is this more clear than in the sumptuous surface of Devotion. Art, life, death and immortality have long been themes that Hirst has explored in his works, and all of these are touched upon in this monumental, transcendent image which is filled with colour, but at the cost of the lives of so many beautiful creatures. The firework-like incandescence of the surface of Devotion, with its pulsating rings of exploding colour, tap into both optimism, in the form of beauty, and fatalism, in the form of the dead insects with which Hirst has deliberately assembled this work. 'I think I've got an obsession with death,' he has said. 'But I think it's like a celebration of life rather than something morbid. You can't have one without the other' (D. Hirst & G. Burn, On the Way to Work, London, 2001, p. 21). That idea is perfectly encapsulated in the moving beauty of this monumental canvas.

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