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Audio: Damien Hirst, Judas Iscariot (The Twelve Disciples)
Damien Hirst (b. 1965)
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THE PROPERTY OF A PRIVATE AMERICAN COLLECTOR
Damien Hirst (b. 1965)

Judas Iscariot (The Twelve Disciples)

Details
Damien Hirst (b. 1965)
Judas Iscariot (The Twelve Disciples)
steel, glass, formaldehyde solution and a bull's head
18 1/8 x 36 x 18 1/8in. (46 x 91.5 x 46cm.)
Executed in 1994
Provenance
White Cube, London.
Acquired from the above by the present owner in 1995.
Literature
J. Saltz, 'More Life: The Work of Damien Hirst', in Art in America, June 1995, pp. 83-87.
G. Burn and D. Hirst, I want to spend the rest of my life everywhere, with everyone, one to one, always, forever, now, London 1997 (illustrated in colour, pp. 320-323).
D. Hirst and G. Burn, On the Way to Work, London 2001 (illustrated in colour, p. 176).

Lot Essay

'They are great stories... it is about the ends of those guys. Cut just like a group of people who all meet these terrible ends. But I think you can use something like that. Everyone is a martyr really in life. So I think you can use that as an example of your own life, just that kind of involvement with the world. Just trying to find out what your life actually amounts to, in the end' (D. Hirst interview with M. D'Argenzio and A. Bonito Oliva (ed.), Damien Hirst, exh. cat., Museo Archeologico Nazionale, Naples, 2004, p. 223).

Created in 1994, Judas Iscariot is an important early example from Hirst's Natural History series. The sculpture originally formed part of The Twelve Disciples, in which Hirst re-interprets the Last Supper in his own contemporary vernacular of bull's heads suspended in formaldehyde tanks. While the other works in the series: James the Greater, John, Simon, Thomas, Matthew, Andrew, James the Lesser, Peter, Philip, Judas and Bartholomew are all encased in white edged tanks, Judas Iscariot alone is in black, a simple yet profound reference to his role as betrayer of Jesus Christ in the biblical narrative. Along with other seminal early formaldehyde works such as The Physical Impossibility of Death in the Mind of Someone Living (1991), Away from the Flock (1993) and Mother and Child Divided (1993), Judas Iscariot highlights Hirst's continued engagement with issues of life, death and the inescapable solitude that lies at the heart of existence.

For Hirst, the Natural History series is involved, at its core, with the very nature of things. As the artist has explained, '[I am] always wanting things to be real and wanting people to feel like they were being presented with their own lives, or something like that, not just like an illusion, it is something real' (D. Hirst interview with M. D'Argenzio and A. Bonito Oliva (ed.), Damien Hirst, exh. cat., Museo Archeologico Nazionale, Naples, 2004, p. 118). In such a way in
sculptures like Judas Iscariot, Hirst provokes a visual, mental and visceral reaction in the viewer, forcing us to contemplate the unknowable and reminding us of our own mortality.

Running as a current throughout Hirst's work are the points of conjunction and discord that exist between art, science and religion. In Judas Iscariot, Hirst invokes the empirical and clinical aesthetic of the anatomy laboratory which he juxtaposes, through the work's title, with the familiar religious story, establishing a creative tension between the two. In his work, Hirst explains, 'I try to say something and deny it at the same time' (D. Hirst quoted in Damien Hirst: Romance in the Age of Uncertainty, exh. cat., White Cube, London, 2003, p. 7). Hirst's fascination with religion and religious iconography belies his own well- documented atheism. 'They are great stories...' Hirst once elaborated, 'it is about the ends of those guys. Cut just like a group of people who all meet these terrible ends. But I think you can use something like that. Everyone is a martyr really in life. So I think you can use that as an example of your own life, just that kind of involvement with the world. Just trying to find out what your life actually amounts to, in the end' (D. Hirst interview with M. D'Argenzi and A. Bonito Oliva (ed.), Damien Hirst, exh. cat., Museo Archeologico Nazionale, Naples, 2004, p. 223).

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