9 August 2012
In recognition of his central role to British art, a specially commissioned work by Hirst was included as part of the Closing Ceremony of the 2012 Olympic Games. The colossal 130 metre wide red, white and blue spin painting was incorporated as part of award-winning theatre, contemporary music and opera designer Es Devlin’s re-interpretation of the iconic flag. The largest reproduction of a Hirst piece ever produced, the design covered the entirety of the Stadium floor and was filled with the celebrating Olympic athletes as they entered the arena. Entitled, ‘Beautiful Union Jack Celebratory Patriotic Olympic Explosion in an Electric Storm Painting’ (2012), it was described by Devlin as epitomising, “the dynamic, anarchic energy of British Pop Art.” She goes on to explain that it was with Hirst's spin painting that she found the perfect way to, “express the energy, diversity, anarchy and multiplicity of contemporary British culture that we wanted to celebrate in 2012.”
The piece forms part of Hirst’s seminal series of spin paintings dating from the early 90s. Originally inspired by spin stalls at school fêtes, he describes the paintings as a, “massive explosion of energy, full of life, colour and optimism”. A selection of key spin paintings, including a collection which rotate mechanically in eternal replication of their fabrication process, can currently be seen at Tate Modern’s major ‘Damien Hirst’ exhibition, on display for the Olympic period until September 9th.
The Closing Ceremony – entitled ‘A Symphony of British Music’ – was a celebration both of the achievements of athletes at the London 2012 Olympic Games, and the significance of Britain’s contribution to the international art and music scene over the last 50 years. Since Hirst first came to public attention in 1988, when he conceived and curated ‘Freeze’, an exhibition in a disused London warehouse of his own work and that of his contemporaries, he has become widely recognised as one of the most influential and renowned artists of his generation. Hirst's contribution is acknowledged by Tate Modern's staging of the largest survey of his work to date in the UK as part of the 2012 Cultural Olympics.