Throughout his varied body of work--which includes preserved and often dissected animals, mechanically produced paintings, and butterfly collages--Damien Hirst has shown a sustained interest in the themes of life and death as well as a firm belief in the salutary power of art. Hirst has long been preoccupied with what he terms "the two most important things where we came from and where we are going." (D. Hirst in, Damien Hirst (Napoli: Museo archeologico nazionale, 2004), p. 113.) Among his most iconic works, his Medicine Cabinets combine the authoritative language of science with the beauty of art: "I just wanted to hide the art behind science to illustrate a point," Hirst has said. "Science is exciting, that kind of discovery They are totally believable, they are like truth." (Ibid, p. 162.
Hirst began the Medicine Cabinet series in 1988 following his grandmother's death, raiding her medicine cabinet for inspiration and arranging the medical packaging in a glass-fronted box. A year later, he created a suite of twelve Medicine Cabinets, borrowing each title from the Sex Pistol's debut album, four of which he exhibited at his degree show at Goldsmiths College of Art. Hirst arranged the pills and bottles, often in pairs, in strict frontality "to create some sort of chord of colour." (Ibid. p. 228.) In the early cabinets, Hirst never included the actual pills, emptying the boxes and bottles instead. In recent years, Hirst has forged simulacral pills often cast in bronze; as he has said, "Real pills decay. They Rot. They're made to dissolve in your body. Plus they're full of toxic substances." (D. Hirst in G. Burn, On the Way to Work (London: Faber and Faber, 2001), p. 116)
In his most recent set of Cabinets, Hirst has replaced the pharmaceuticals with precious stones. In the present lot, Forget, Hirst has arranged a selection of aquamarine stones, end to end, across multiple glass shelves. The shelves are encased in a gold-plated stainless steel medicine cabinet, backed with a mirror and fronted with a locked, sliding glass door and a dangling key. The strong combination of luminous gold surfaces broken by dots of azure prove Hirst at his formal height. Yet, despite the piece's formal pleasure, the title of Forget (like the related pieces such as Forgotten Sorrows or Lost Friends) suggests notions of melancholy and loss.
A innovative direction in Hirst's work, the incorporation of precious stones took him to new heights in 2007. For the Love of God is a diamond-encrusted platinum cast of a human skull. Inspired by a turquoise skull in the collection of the British Museum, For the Love of God was first exhibited at London's White Cube in the exhibition Beyond Belief and was billed as the most expensive work ever sold. Like For the Love of God, Forget speaks to the inevitability of death despite modern scientific advances. Forget is a dazzlingly modern vanitas-a reminder of the fragility of human life.