17 September 2012
In the first Hirst retrospective to be held in a British institution, Tate Modern presented major works spanning twenty-five years of the artist’s career. Figures released today by the gallery reveal that it was one of their most successful ever shows, and was seen by almost 3,000 visitors each day, coming ahead of the Edward Hopper retrospective staged in 2004, and Paul Gauguin in 2010 – 11.
On display alongside Hirst’s iconic ‘Natural History’ piece, ‘The Physical Impossibility of Death in the Mind of Someone Living’ (1991), were the first ‘Medicine Cabinets’ and the seminal fly vitrine, ‘A Thousand Years’ (1990) – considered by the artist to be amongst his most significant works. On the occasion of the retrospective, Hirst also refabricated his two-part installation piece ‘In and Out of Love’ (1991), for the first time since its exhibition in a disused travel agents over twenty years ago. Described by Hirst as, “a comparison between art and life”, the installation invited viewers to pass through a room of live butterflies – hatching, mating, laying eggs and eventually dying – before entering a room filled with a series of butterfly monochrome paintings.
To accompany the seventy-piece survey, ‘For the Love of God’ (2007) – a platinum cast of a human skull set with 8,601 flawless pavé-set diamonds – went on display in Tate Modern’s monumental turbine hall for a period of two months. Housed in a special viewing chamber, it was the first time the sculpture has been viewable in the UK since it’s original exhibition at White Cube in 2007 (‘Beyond Belief’)
Following unprecedented visitor figures for a solo show, Chris Dercon, Director of the Tate Modern commented: “We are delighted that so many people came to see and discuss the Damien Hirst exhibition [...] It was wonderful to see such iconic works brought together in one place and to offer our visitors a chance to experience them first-hand.”
The exhibition was sponsored by the Qatar Museums Authority and formed part of the London 2012 Festival – the culmination of the Cultural Olympiad. In August, Hirst’s importance as a British artist was recognised with the inclusion of his Union Jack spin painting in the Olympics 2012 Closing Ceremony.
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