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Damien Hirst (b. 1965)
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Calcium Gluconate Injection

Calcium Gluconate Injection
household gloss on canvas
92 x 108in. (233.7 x 274.3cm.) (4 inch spot)
Executed in 1992
White Cube.
Tanya Bonakdar Gallery, New York.
Cohen Gallery, New York.
Anon. sale, Phillips de Pury & Luxembourg, New York, 14 May 2001, lot 7.
Acquired at the above sale by the present owner.
R. Violette and D. Hirst, Damien Hirst: I Want to Spend the Rest of My Life Everywhere, with Everyone, One to One, Always, Forever, Now, London 1997 (illustrated in colour, p. 244).
M. D’Argenzio and A. Bonito Oliva (ed.), Damien Hirst, exh. cat., Naples, Museo Archeologico Nazionale, 2004 (installation view illustrated in colour, pp. 112-113).
J. Beard and M. Wilner (eds.), The Complete Spot Paintings: 1986-2011 Damien Hirst, London 2013, p. 826 (illustrated in colour, p. 46).
New York, Tanya Bonakdar Gallery, Nature Morte, 1994.
Dallas Museum of Art, Encounter 5: Damien Hirst and Tracy Hicks, 1994.
Special notice

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.
These lots have been imported from outside the EU for sale using a Temporary Import regime. Import VAT is payable (at 5%) on the Hammer price. VAT is also payable (at 20%) on the buyer’s Premium on a VAT inclusive basis. When a buyer of such a lot has registered an EU address but wishes to export the lot or complete the import into another EU country, he must advise Christie's immediately after the auction.

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Annemijn van Grimbergen
Annemijn van Grimbergen

Lot Essay

Executed in 1992, Calcium Gluconate Injection is an early, monumental work from Damien Hirst’s Deuterated Compounds subseries of spot paintings from 1992. Identifiable by its grids of greyscale colour spots, the subseries consists of only 22 works, with the present work listed first in the Damien Hirst Complete Spot Paintings. Extending over two and half metres in length, this work stands as the second largest Deuterated Compounds painting. The grisaille dots across its immense expanse create a hypnotic, kaleidoscopic effect.

Created at a pivotal point in Hirst’s career, the unprecedented large scale of Calcium Gluconate Injection suggests the newfound authority of Hirst and the broader yBa movement. The year 1992 coincided with the artist’s first nomination for the Turner Prize, London and the first exhibition of Young British Artists at the Saatchi gallery, where Hirst exhibited his now legendary The Physical Impossibility of Death in the Mind of Someone Living and A Thousand Years. The international acclaim that followed saw the artist’s exhibition of Mother and Child Divided at the Venice Biennale, in advance of the artist’s second nomination for the Turner prize the in 1994.

The cool, elemental execution of the pristine dots suggests a scientific logic. Uniformly positioned in a perfect grid across the massive expanse of white canvas, the spaces between spots is equal to the width of the spots. Expanding across the vast surface of Calcium Gluconate Injection, meticulous rows of subtle slate, ash, and platinum paint create an undulating pattern over the achromatic sea; the gridded regularity imparting a cadenced pattern of light and shade. The vast field of systematic spots compels the viewer to deconstruct the perceived logic of the configuration, attempting to seek meaning in the orderly formation. Focused on the random and infinite arrangement of spots, the artist articulates that ‘they are about the urge or the need to be a painter above and beyond the object of a painting. I’ve often said that they are like sculptures of paintings... In the spot paintings the grid-like structure creates the beginning of a system. On each painting no two colours are the same. This ends the system; it’s a simple system. No matter how I feel as an artist or a painter, the paintings end up looking happy. I can still make emotional decisions about colour that I need to as an artist, but in the end they are lost. The end of painting…’ (D. Hirst quoted, I want to spend the rest of my life everywhere, with everyone, one to one, always, forever, now, London 1997, p. 246).

Upon close inspection the subtle individual quality of each spot makes itself apparent, articulating itself from within the vast field of grayscale tonality. Enveloping the viewer, the grid paradoxically oscillates between both the meditative calm of a cresting wave and the dizzying restlessness of a mechanical turbine. As the artist has asserted when discussing the installation of his spot paintings, ‘it’s an assault on your senses. They grab hold of you and give you a good shaking. As adults, we’re not used to it. It’s an amazing fact that all objects leap beyond their own dimension’ (D. Hirst & G. Burn, On the Way to Work, London 2001, p. 220). Indeed, the spectacular retinal experience of infinite variations of pale tonalities is truly transcendent.

Among the spot paintings created in the early 1990s, Calcium Gluconate Injection was made in parallel with Hirst’s Medicine Cabinets and the Pill Cabinets, its medicinal name and cellular quality drawing correlations between art and science. Belonging to this earliest group of works on canvas, its title was taken arbitrarily from the medicines listed in the Sigma-Aldrich chemical company catalogue which the artist encountered in the early 1990’s. ‘Deuterated Compounds are those chemical compounds in which some or all of the hydrogen–1 atoms have been replaced by deuterium atoms. Dueterium is one of two stable isotopes of hydrogen and can act as a moderator to nuclear reactions’ (J. Beard & M. Wilner, Damien Hirst The Complete Spot Paintings 1986-2011, London 2013, p. 821). Its title Calcium Gluconate Injection refers to a medicine used in chronic conditions where high levels of calcium are needed by the body.

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