Overview

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Damien Hirst (b. 1965)
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Damien Hirst (b. 1965)

Caprica 6

Details
Damien Hirst (b. 1965)
Caprica 6
each signed, titled, consecutively numbered and dated 'Damien Hirst 2008 "Caprica 6"' (on the reverse)
household gloss paint and butterfly on canvas, in six parts
each: 24 x 18in. (61 x 45.7cm.)
overall: 24 x 108in. (61 x 274.2cm.)
Executed in 2008
Provenance
Damien Hirst: Beautiful Inside My Head Forever, Sotheby's London, 15 September 2008, lot 43.
Acquired at the above sale by the present owner.
Special notice

VAT rate of 5% is payable on hammer price and at 20% on the buyer's premium.

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Alice de Roquemaurel
Alice de Roquemaurel

Lot Essay

In Damien Hirst's Caprica 6, six monochrome panels in different colours each sport a butterfly at their centre. There is a rich contrast in each segment between the wings of the butterfly and the colour in the background which recalls Hirst's statement regarding his butterfly paintings that, 'I wanted these paintings to be more real than a de Kooning painting, where the colour leaps of the canvas and flies around' (D. Hirst, I want to spend the rest of my life everywhere, with everyone, one to one, always, forever, now, London 1997, p. 120).

Caprica 6 was created in 2008 and shows Hirst returning to one of
his most enduring and popular themes: the butterfly. In his first oneman exhibition in 1991, In and Out of Love, Hirst had presented two rooms, one with butterflies hatching and flying around the room, and another with glistening, glossy monochromes with butterflies affixed to the surface, as here. Hirst wanted to give the impression that these butterflies had become trapped in the surface. In Caprica 6, the composition removes the sense of butterflies randomly landing on the surface; instead, in its regularity, it recalls the scientific displays of the Victorians and the constant need to categorise, chart and organize nature that lies at the heart of so much of modern science. Hirst's works often tackle the subject of immortality, a concept that is enshrined in the preserved bodies of these butterflies with their beautiful wings; at the same time, the regularity of the presentation in Caprica 6 hints at the ordered world of medicine through which people seek to extend their lives in the modern era. Science has replaced religion as a source of solace in our more secular age; it is through medical breakthroughs that we seek to prolong our lives now, a replacement for the salvation that lies at the heart of so many religions. In Caprica 6, Hirst has created mock-scientific panels that parody this desire for eternity.

The title of Caprica 6 invokes this quest for survival through science, as it is taken from the name of one of the characters in the critically acclaimed series Battlestar Galactica, a modern reimagining of the series of the same name from the 1970s. 'Caprica Six' is the name of a Cylon played by Tricia Helfer who originally carries out the covert operation that lowers humanity's defences before attack by the Cylons; her character later becomes sympathetic to the plight of the humans and seeks a new joint path for the races. This reference to the Cylons, themselves the product of an attempt by humanity to approach immortality and to play with creation in a God-like manner, underscores Hirst's investigation of the roles of science and belief in the modern world, while invoking Caprica Six hints at some form of hope for the future. While Caprica 6 speaks of the unavoidability of death, a notion that is rammed home by the presence of the dead butterflies on each panel, its title, its bright colours and the iridescence of the insects' wings mean that it becomes a vision of hope, a modern altarpiece to the wonders of life, a celebration of beauty.

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