Wednesday, December 8, 2010

Damien Hirst: "The Physical Impossibility of Death in the Mind of Someone Living"


The Physical Impossibility of Death in the Mind of Someone Living is an artwork created in 1992 by Damien Hirst, an English artist and a leading member of the "Young British Artists" (or YBA). It consists of a tiger shark preserved in formaldehyde in a vitrine. It was originally commissioned in 1991 by Charles Saatchi, who sold it in 2004, to Steven A. Cohen for an undisclosed amount, widely reported to have been $8 million dollars, however the title of Don Thompson's book, The $12 Million Stuffed Shark: The Curious Economics of Contemporary Art, suggests a higher figure. It is considered the iconic work of British art in the 1990s,[2] and has become a symbol of Britart worldwide.[3]

Its technical specifications are: "Tiger shark, glass, steel, 5% formaldehyde solution, 213 x 518 x 213 cm."

"Mr. Hirst often aims to fry the mind (and misses more than he hits), but he does so by setting up direct, often visceral experiences, of which the shark remains the most outstanding. In keeping with the piece’s title, the shark is simultaneously life and death incarnate in a way you don’t quite grasp until you see it, suspended and silent, in its tank. It gives the innately demonic urge to live a demonic, deathlike form."[8]

*Due to deterioration of the original 14-foot (4.3 m) tiger shark, it was replaced with a new specimen in 2006. It is on display at the Metropolitan Museum of Art in New York City until 2010.[1]

1. ^ Smith, Roberta (16 October 2007). "Just When You Thought It Was Safe". The New York Times. http://www.nytimes.com/2007/10/16/arts/design/16muse.html?_r=1&hp&oref=slogin. Retrieved 2007-10-16. 2. ^ Brooks, Richard. "Hirst's shark is sold to America", The Sunday Times, 16 January 2005. Retrieved 14 October 2008. 3. ^ Davies, Serena. "Why painting is back in the frame", The Daily Telegraph, 8 January 2005. Retrieved 15 October 2008.4. ^ a b "Saatchi mulls £6.25m shark offer", BBC. Retrieved 23 February 2007 5. ^ a b Barber, Lynn "Bleeding art", The Observer, 20 April 2003. Retrieved 1 September 2007. 6. ^ a b c d e f g h i j Vogel, Carol "Swimming with famous dead sharks,2 New York Times, 1 October 2006. Retrieved 23 February 2007 7. ^ "Damien Hirst", The Artchive. Retrieved 23 February 2007 8. ^ Smith, Roberta (16 October 2007). "Just When You Thought It Was Safe". The New York Times. http://www.nytimes.com/2007/10/16/arts/design/16muse.html?_r=1&hp&oref=slogin. Retrieved 2009-08-16. 9. ^ Akbar, Arifa. "A formaldehyde frenzy as buyers snap up Hirst works", The Independent, 16 September 2008. Retrieved 16 September 2008. 10. ^ Kennedy, Maev "Art market a 'cultural obscenity'", The Guardian, 3 June 2004. Retrieved 1 September 2007. 11. ^ Alberge, Dalya. "Traditionalists mark shark attack on Hirst", The Times, 10 April 2003. Retrieved 6 February 2008. 12. ^ "A Dead Shark Isn't Art" on the Stuckism International web site Retrieved 21 September 2008

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