Damien Hirst

With Dead Head (1991)

About this artwork

‘With Dead Head’ shows Hirst posing for the camera with a severed head. The photograph was taken at a morgue in Leeds when Hirst was sixteen - he went along with a friend who was studying microbiology. This work reveals his unflinching ability to confront death and life’s brevity even at an early age, but his expression betrays an underlying fear. Around this time Hirst began to collect pathology books containing pictures of burns and wounds, and developed an interest in the work of Francis Bacon. Hirst maintained that, although he was fascinated by corpses - how they can be both visually horrific and beautiful at the same time - dead bodies still didn’t explain anything about death.

  • title: With Dead Head
  • accession number: AR00617
  • artist: Damien HirstEnglish (born 1965)
  • gallery: In Storage
  • object type: Photograph
  • subject: Young British Artists (YBA's)
  • medium: Aluminium
  • date created: 1991
  • measurements: 57.20 x 76.20 cm
  • credit line: ARTIST ROOMS National Galleries of Scotland and Tate. Acquired jointly through The d'Offay Donation with assistance from the National Heritage Memorial Fund and the Art Fund 2008
  • copyright: © Damien Hirst and Science Ltd. All rights reserved, DACS 2016.
This artwork is part of Artist Rooms

Damien Hirst

Damien Hirst

Hirst was born in Bristol and grew up in Leeds, moving to London in 1986 to study at Goldsmith's College. While still a student, he organised the enormously successful 'Freeze' exhibition, which featured his own work as well as that of fellow students. This brought him to the attention of the highly influential art collector Charles Saatchi and is generally seen as the starting point for the 'Young British Artists' movement. The central theme of Hirst's work is mortality. He is best known for the 'Natural History' series of works, in which dead animals are preserved in tanks. He is also interested in medical paraphernalia and has produced series of spot paintings, spin paintings and steel and glass cases.