It’s a Wonderful World, 2001



It’s a Wonderful World
1829 x 1829 mm | 72 x 72 in
Butterflies and household gloss on canvas
Image: Courtesy of Gagosian Gallery © Damien Hirst and Science Ltd. All rights reserved, DACS 2012


‘It’s a Wonderful World’ (2001) is the first work in Hirst’s series of 'Kaleidoscope' paintings, in which thousands of butterfly wings are placed in intricate patterns reminiscent of stained-glass windows.

Whilst the butterfly is one of Hirst’s most enduring “universal triggers”, in the kaleidoscope paintings the use of the insect differs to earlier works. Previously, the inclusion of live butterflies, as in the installation ‘In and Out of Love’ (1991), or whole dead ones in the butterfly monochrome paintings, was partially an exploration of “the way the real butterfly can destroy the ideal (birthday-card) kind of love; the symbol exists apart from the real thing”.[1] Recalling someone once saying to him: “Butterflies are beautiful, but it’s a shame they have disgusting hairy bodies in the middle,” Hirst chose to use only the iridescent wings in the kaleidoscope paintings, divorcing the butterflies from “the real thing”, and thus presenting an idealised form of beauty.[2]

[1] Damien Hirst cited in Damien Hirst, ‘I Want to Spend the Rest of My Life Everywhere, with Everyone, One to One, Always, Forever, Now’ (Booth-Clibborn Editions; Reduced edition, 2005), 118

[2] Ibid., 135