Damien Hirst courts controversy with diamond-studded baby’s skull

 

Artist Damien Hirst (Photo: David Rose)

 

He has made his name and his fortune shocking the public with controversial art works including dissected sharks and pickled sheep.

But Damien Hirst has pushed the boundaries of taste further still by using a dead baby’s skull in the creation of his latest work of art.

For Heaven’s Sake, an infant’s skull cast in platinum and studded with pink and white diamonds, will go on display later this month as part of an exhibition of new paintings and sculptures by the artist.

The baby’s skull on which the work was modelled is believed to be that of a newborn less than two weeks old which is part of a 19th-century pathology collection that Hirst has acquired.

The work has angered parenting groups, who claim that it is offensive to those who have suffered the bereavement of a child.

 

Damien Hirst: For Heaven's Sake, 2008, Platinum, pink and white diamonds 85 x 85 x 100

 

Sally Russell, the founder of the parenting group Netmums, said: “There is so much heartache around the death of a child whatever the circumstances, and it affects parents so deeply and for so long.

“Mr Hirst may not have intended to be insensitive with his new work, but the fact is it will have a profound effect on many people who will find the subject deeply disturbing.”

Set with more than 8,000 diamonds by the royal jewellers Bentley & Skinner, the skull will go on show later this month at the Gagosian gallery’s exhibition space in Hong Kong and is expected to go on display in London later this year.

The gallery has declined to comment on its price.

Jude Tyrrell, the director of Science Ltd, Hirst’s main art-production company, said: “Of course it’s a delicate subject, but this is from an old collection, which we think is Victorian, and they were obsessed with collecting all sorts of bizarre things.

“I’m a mother, and I do find it slightly odd and strange to look at, but at the same time quite beautiful.”

 

For the Love of God by Damien Hirst

 

 

For Heaven’s Sake follows Hirst’s 2007 work For the Love of Goda £50 million diamond-encrusted skull, which became the world’s most expensive contemporary artwork and the largest diamond piece commissioned since the Crown Jewels.

Currently on display at the Palazzo Vecchio in Florence, it was first exhibited at the White Cube Gallery in Mayfair, where thousands of people queued to view it in a high-security darkened chamber.

Studded with more than 8,600 diamonds, including a £4.2 million pink diamond set at its forehead, it has been described as “an anthropomorphised disco ball”, “a cosmic wonder”, “the vulgar embodiment of modern materialism” and, by Hirst himself, as “quite bling”.

The skull used in For the Love of God underwent radiocarbon analysis, which found that it had probably belonged to a European man alive in the 18th or early 19th centuries, thought to be around 35 years-old.

Roger Sclare, the owner of the taxidermy business Get Stuffed, which provided Hirst with the first skull, said: “Infants’ skulls are rare, but they do occasionally come up for sale if a museum or old teaching hospital who may have had them in their stock has a clear out. Private collectors will also sometimes trade them.”

Hirst, who has a home in Mexico, has said that he has been inspired by the use of skulls in ancient Aztec art.

He has said: “What’s the maximum I could do as a celebration against death? When you look at a skull, you think it represents the end, but when you see the end so beautiful, it gives you hope.

“Diamonds are about perfection and clarity and wealth and sex and death and immortality. They are a symbol of everything that’s eternal, but then they have a dark side as well.”

By Roya Nikkhah, Arts Correspondent for http://www.telegraph.co.uk/

http://www.damienhirst.com/

Have a look at the production: http://supertouchart.com/2007/07/21/techniquethe-making-of-damien-hirsts-diamond-skull/

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