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Damien Hirst (b. 1965)
PROPERTY FROM AN IMPORTANT PRIVATE EUROPEAN COLLECTION 
Damien Hirst (b. 1965)

Polar Star

Details
Damien Hirst (b. 1965)
Polar Star
signed, titled and dated '"polar star" 2006 Damien Hirst' (on the reverse); signed again 'Damien Hirst' (on the stretcher)
oil on canvas
48 x 36 in. (121.9 x 91.4 cm.)
Painted in 2006.
Provenance
Gagosian Gallery, New York

Lot Essay

Hirst is at his most dazzling when he compels the viewer to gaze at his or her own desire. Poised on a lush black ground, the Polar Diamond, legendary for its clarity and brilliance, seduces as it provokes. Named for its eight-pointed faceted configuration, it is an exquisite 39.34 carats, a soft shape of exquisite refinement and transparency. Hirst's masterful "head shot" of this spectacular gem, painted in photo-realist style and framed in flamboyant gold leaf, puts squarely forward Hirst's focus on the consuming questions of value in contemporary life, yet does so in a way that is buoyant and energetic. Always fresh, the flamboyance of the artist's oeuvre belies the deeper existential issues with which Hirst consistently deals.

The present work can be traced to the sale at Christie's Geneva in 1980 of the extraordinary Polar Diamond itself. Fetching an incomparable price, the diamond had been discovered in alluvial sediment in the Krishna River in India toward the end of the 19<->th century. Coveted by illustrious personages throughout its history, beginning with Joseph Bonaparte and Princess Tatiana Youssoupoff, the near-perfect gem parallel's Hirst's own sensational trajectory. Named after Polaris, the North Star, the brightest in the constellation Ursa minor, its history is synonymous with the birth of Jesus Christ, its location and the subsequent adoration by the magi "For we have seen His star at its rising" (Gospel of Matthew 2:2). Hirst plays fully on this association, and carries it into the world of the simulacra, of commodity culture, the diamond a lodestar by which society navigates its hierarchies. For the Love of God, a platinum scull encrusted with 8, 601 diamonds, created its own sensation in 2007, and its serious intent is clear from Hirst's statement that "It does make you think about a lot of things though.. life, death, ethics, precious jewels and the mining of them, money, art, beauty.. and on and on." Since 1988, Hirst has drawn new audiences, beginning with 'Freeze," at the abandoned Docklands warehouse where four days a week, 16 artists, all graduates of Goldsmith's College (1986-9) in south London, presented their work. Out of this group, labelled 'Young British Artists," Hirst has become the most internationally renowned.

A work of sheer beauty, Polar Star dazzles in photo-realist style, even as it challenges our motivations, our desires, and our fantasies. Using the desired object as its own critique, Hirst objectifies and makes explicit our aspirations and longings. Using media and images that challenge conventional notions of art materials and subjects, Hirst slyly offers us a portrait of ourselves, a metaphor that while it may foreground our fascination with objects of desire, also, in its aesthetic appeal, challenges our notions of connoisseurship even as it mirrors our acquisitive appetites.

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