Damien Hirst

Wretched War

About this artwork

Wretched War (2004) depicts the fractured and decapitated body of a pregnant woman. It is partly based on anatomical models. The pose is borrowed from a sculpture by the Impressionist artist Edgar Degas – his famous Nude Study for The 14-Year-Old Dancer (about 1880). A bronze cast of this is in the National Galleries of Scotland’s collection. The sculpture's theme of life versus death, has been central to Damien Hirst's art.

In 1991 Hirst gained worldwide fame when he exhibited a shark preserved in formaldehyde (The Physical Impossibility of Death in the Mind of Someone Living) and a vitrine containing a cow's head, maggots and flies (A Thousand Years). In these works, and ever since, Hirst has tackled the great historical themes of art: birth, life, death and the fragility of existence.

Updated before 2020

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Damien Hirst

Damien Hirst