Damien Hirst’s Preserved Cabinets
Isolated Elements Swimming in the Same Direction for the Purpose of Understanding (Left) & (Right), 1991
Perhaps still the most polarizing living artist in public opinion, Damien Hirst’s innovative contributions to contemporary art practice over twenty-plus years are undeniable. Hirst’s extensive and still on-going Natural History series, sees the artist continually utilizing the formaldehyde vitrine, a medium that has become synonymous with the artist himself. Similar cabinets can be seen in natural history museums around the world and even a typical high school laboratory. This work draws on early scientific and biologic study and echos the Darwinian era of evolutionary wonder.
As always, Hirst’s titles are simultaneously cryptic and poetic; and while his works are often laden with dark and satirical undertones, this diptych seems to exude a sense of optimism regarding the power of collectivity.
This is the first in a series of posts in the coming weeks that will examine Damien Hirst works that negotiate science, biology, medicine and mortality.