The 63 Hirst pieces were installed throughout the museum amongst its own collection of artefacts and displays. Major early works such as the instrument cabinets ‘Still’ (1994) and ‘Naked’ (1994) – exhibited together for the first time – were included in ‘Cornucopia’, as were the ‘Mental Escapology’ works ‘Loving in a World of Desire' (1996) and ‘The History of Pain’ (1999).
Among the new works included were a series of ‘Kaleidoscope’ paintings, each one named after an Old Testament Psalm, and a collection of black monochrome canvases with butterflies, cubic zirconia, pins and razor blades, entitled ‘The Execution Paintings’ (2008).
On his decision to exhibit at the Musée Océanographique, Hirst explained, “when I was a child I loved visiting museums like this more than anything. There was a giant stuffed Bengal tiger and an aquarium in the Leeds City Museum where I grew up, and before I ever knew what art was, I knew about wonder and amazement from visiting this museum and without snobbery it brings the world to people who – for whatever reasons – can’t travel the world.” In reference to the importance of natural history to his work, Hirst showed a series of formaldehyde works at the exhibition, including two shark tanks, ‘The Immortal’ (1997-2005) and ‘Fear of Flying’ (2008-2009), a bisected version of his formaldehyde-preserved lamb, ‘Away from the Flock, Divided’ (1995), and a dove in ‘After the Flood’ (2008). Also exhibited was ‘The Forgiveness’ (2008) – a new work consisting of a 28-foot-high stainless-steel display cabinet containing immaculately arranged rows of 25 different species of butterflies and beetles.
‘Cornucopia’ included an extensive series of Hirst’s bronze sculptures. Alongside new works such as ‘Myth’ (2010) – a painted unicorn, partially skinned to reveal its anatomical structure – a collection of large-scale sculptures were installed outside the museum. ‘Temple’ (2008), a bronze edition of an anatomical model, was positioned on the building’s terrace, whilst a fully painted edition of ‘The Virgin Mother’ (2005-2006) was installed at the end of Fontvieille Harbour for the duration of the exhibition. Hirst’s bronzes are intended for outdoor display. On discussing ‘Hymn’ in 2000, he explains: “it’ll decay. So eventually what you’ll be left with is this solid bronze man with bits of paint hanging off it. In a way it’s like what happens to your body. I liked it for that reason.”
The catalogue published on the occasion of the exhibition included an essay by art historian Rudi Fuchs (Other Criteria/Musée Océanographique, 2010).