Damien Hirst

Monument to the Living and the Dead (2006)

About this artwork

This large butterfly diptych was made specially for the ARTIST ROOMS collection. A diptych of two pieces of wood or metal containing the names of the living and the dead has been used, so that prayers and Masses can be said for their souls. Hirst has long been obsessed with butterflies as a metaphor for mortality. They are traditional symbols of the soul. In 1991 Hirst filled a London gallery with hundreds of live tropical butterflies, some of them growing from chrysalises on monochrome canvasses hung from the wall.

  • title: Monument to the Living and the Dead
  • accession number: AR00045
  • artist: Damien HirstEnglish (born 1965)
  • gallery: In Storage
  • object type: Painting
  • date created: 2006
  • measurements: 213.40 x 213.40 x 3.00 cm (framed (each): 232.30 x 232.5 x 12.00 cm; displayed overall: 232.20 x 464.50 x 12.00 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.