Life Without You

Life Without You. Damien Hirst. 1991.

Life Without You. Damien Hirst. 1991.

Life Without You. Damien Hirst. 1991.

Life Without You. Damien Hirst. 1991.

Life Without You proposes a layout of shells from exotic places as the desolate emptiness of lost love. Hirst has said that he likes shells ‘because they once contained life’; this aspect of them is paramount for him. However, although he is presenting a landscape of dead husks, they have already been transformed, through varnishing, into a range of attractive consumable objects, leading to the suggestion, in Life Without You, that the abandoned subject may find consolation elsewhere. The grid in this work is compromised by its variations and exceptions, perhaps allowing some hope despite the bleakness of the implied end. In comparison to works made by Schwitters using found pebbles, a feather and shell, such as Symphony for a Poet, 1940, its collage of humble objects suggesting melancholy and contemplation, Hirst’s table arrangement appears upbeat, clean and colourful, if a little sterile. The aesthetics and tactics of advertising have become central characteristics of Hirst’s work: Life Without You anticipates his later use of them to reinterpret traditionally poetic subjects (love, loss, life, death) in a new language of contemporary art that fuses minimalism, pop and the cult of the commodity.

text from Tate

Advertisements

Home

Home is not always as glamorous as being in exotic places but it feels good and comforting all the same. In his piece, Home Sweet Home, Damien Hirst screenprinted a plate to look like an ashtray, a comment on the gritty comfort of home as well as the fragility of human existence.

Home Sweet Home. Damien Hirst. 1996. Screenprint on porcelain.

Home Sweet Home. Damien Hirst. 1996. Screenprint on porcelain.

Cigarettes are a common motif in Hirst’s work (even after he quit in 2006) which he uses as a metaphor for life:

“For me, the cigarette can stand for life. The packet with its possible cigarettes stands for birth, the lighter can signify God, which gives life to the whole situation, the Ashtray represents death […] being metaphorical is ridiculous, but it’s unavoidable.”