Damien Hirst

Controlled Substances Key Painting (Spot 4a) (1994)

About this artwork

This canvas is constructed using a grid of dots of different colours, accompanied by letters in alphabetical order that seem to dissect and reorganise the very matter of painting into cells. Hirst has said that he only painted five of his spot paintings himself, since he found them so boring to paint and could not do them as well as his assistants. But the key thing about these works is their conceptual clarity – the potentiality of making an infinite number and variety of paintings, based on size and colour of the dots and size and shape of the canvases. Like Andy Warhol, whom Hirst greatly admires, Hirst has set up a sort of factory with assistants to help him make his works of arts. Like Warhol, Hirst retains central control of what and how it is produced.

  • title: Controlled Substances Key Painting (Spot 4a)
  • accession number: AR00498
  • artist: Damien HirstEnglish (born 1965)
  • gallery: In Storage
  • object type: Painting
  • subject: Young British Artists (YBA's)
  • date created: 1994
  • measurements: 122.00 x 122.40 x 4.00 cm (framed: 130.70 x 130.30 x 8.10 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.