Damien Hirst

English (born 1965)
Damien Hirst Away from the Flock 1994 © Damien Hirst and Science Ltd. All rights reserved, DACS 2017.


Born 1965
Nationality English

Hirst was born in Bristol and grew up in Leeds, moving to London in 1986 to study at Goldsmith's College. While still a student, he organised the enormously successful 'Freeze' exhibition, which featured his own work as well as that of fellow students. This brought him to the attention of the highly influential art collector Charles Saatchi and is generally seen as the starting point for the 'Young British Artists' movement. The central theme of Hirst's work is mortality. He is best known for the 'Natural History' series of works, in which dead animals are preserved in tanks. He is also interested in medical paraphernalia and has produced series of spot paintings, spin paintings and steel and glass cases.

Glossary terms

  • A group of conceptual British artists, mainly born in the 1960s, first gathered together by Damien Hirst in 1988 to take part in an exhibition called 'Freeze'. The term YBA was coined following the show 'Young British Artists I', featuring work by Hirst and Rachel Whiteread, which was held at the Saatchi Gallery, London, in 1992. Many of the artists known as YBAs trained at Goldsmiths College of Art, London. The phenomenon is also known as 'Britart'.

  • An annual British art prize which was founded in 1984 by the Tate Gallery's Patrons of New Art. It is intended to promote public discussion of developments in contemporary British art and generates media attention and, at times, controversy. Winners include Gilbert and George , Richard Long, Rachel Whiteread and Douglas Gordon.