Executed in 2006, For the Love of God (D.A.B.D.A.) is a working drawing for the diamond-encrusted platinum cast of a human skull that Damien Hirst exhibited to such press attention in 2007. That sculpture, entitled For the Love of God, was shown at the White Cube in Hirst's playfully-named Beyond Belief exhibition, where it was offered with a much-publicised price-tag of 50 million and fêted as the most expensive work of art ever sold.
In the hypnotic, shimmering surface of For the Love of God, Hirst evokes the elusive earthly refuges of wealth and of beauty. The sculpture was in part inspired by a turquoise skull in the British Museum, but Hirst has granted it a new contemporary currency, taking that sense of mystical treasure to a new, twenty-first-century extreme of opulence and thereby invoking questions of belief, mortality and indeed wealth. Hirst has long explored the modern, more secular substitutes for the religious belief that provided much wider comfort in days of yore as we try to avoid death, or the fear of death, through science, medicine and even art. These notions are explored in the title of this drawing: D.A.B.D.A. is an acronym published in Elizabeth Kübler-Ross' 1969 book, On Death and Dying, standing for the five stages for coming to terms with dying, namely Denial; Anger; Bargaining; Depression; Acceptance. In For the Love of God, Hirst dismantled, analysed and explored modern notions of death and denial in a world that plays increasing tribute to the mystifying power of technology, and even of artworks, to prolong some sense of life. The hoped-for power to fend off the oblivion of death is captured in that bling bling talisman which, as Hirst has noted in For the Love of God (D.A.B.D.A.), is a 'decoration against death.' Crucially, the self-evident mortality implied by the skull in For the Love of God is off-set by the diamonds and metal of the sculpture: the durability of those materials allows Hirst to lay his claim to the eternal.