natural history: damien hirst's iconic formaldehyde sculptures on view at gagosian london

natural history: damien hirst's iconic formaldehyde sculptures on view at gagosian london

‘natural history’ opens at gagosian london

 

gagosian london presents the first-ever exhibition dedicated to damien hirst’s groundbreaking formaldehyde sculptures. now on view at the britannia street gallery, ‘natural history’ brings together more than twenty of the most iconic examples, dating from 1991 to 2021. the british artist has used formaldehyde in many of his best-known works, starting with ‘the physical impossibility of death in the mind of someone living’, a provocative artwork created in 1991 that presents a fourteen-foot tiger shark preserved in a tank filled with the naturally occurring compound. since then, he has added a variety of preserved animals to the ‘natural history’ series, including sheep, cows, doves, and fish —some of which are bisected, sliced into cross sections, or flayed.

natural history: damien hirst's iconic formaldehyde sculptures on view at gagosian london
all images © damien hirst and science ltd. all rights reserved, DACS 2022 | all photos by prudence cuming associates ltd

 

 

A SHOW dedicated to damien hirst’s formaldehyde sculptures

 

‘I wanted a shark that’s big enough to eat you, and in a large enough amount of liquid so that you could imagine you were in there with it,’ said damien hirst. the exhibition at gagosian london features formaldehyde works from the artist’s ‘natural history’ series spanning a thirty year period, many of which are being presented together for the very first time.

 

embodying his ongoing drive to bridge the gap between art and science, the sculptures feature a number of animals, such as sheep (‘I AM’, 1995), calves (‘cain and abel’, 1994, and ‘the ascension’, 2003), and sharks, as seen in ‘myth explored, explained, exploded’ from 1993, among others. the animals are preserved in heavy frame tanks, which have been an element of the artist’s work since the 1990s. ‘hirst’s vitrines are rooted in the fear of fragility, and in a consequent desire to isolate and protect,’ notes the exhibition text. ‘yet ultimately, far from proposing formaldehyde as an effective medium for preserving objects and the ideas they convey, hirst concludes that the very idea of preservation is futile in the face of inevitable death.’ ‘natural history’ is open from march 9, 2022, at gagosian london.

natural history: damien hirst's iconic formaldehyde sculptures on view at gagosian london
installation view at gagosian london

natural history: damien hirst's iconic formaldehyde sculptures on view at gagosian london
damien hirst, ‘cain and abel’, 1994, glass, painted steel, silicone, acrylic, plastic cable ties, calves, and formaldehyde solution, in 2 parts, each: 41 × 66 ¾ × 24 ⅝ inches (104 × 169.5 × 62.5 cm), edition 1/1 + 1 AP

natural history: damien hirst's iconic formaldehyde sculptures on view at gagosian londonnatural history: damien hirst's iconic formaldehyde sculptures on view at gagosian london

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natural history: damien hirst's iconic formaldehyde sculptures on view at gagosian london

natural history: damien hirst's iconic formaldehyde sculptures on view at gagosian london
damien hirst, ‘I AM’, 1995 glass, painted steel, silicone, acrylic, plastic cable ties, stainless steel, sheep, and formaldehyde solution, 43 ½ × 64 × 25 ⅜ inches (110.5 × 162.5 × 64.5 cm)

natural history: damien hirst's iconic formaldehyde sculptures on view at gagosian london
damien hirst, ‘the ascension’, 2003 glass, painted stainless steel, silicone, acrylic, monofilament, calf, and formaldehyde solution, 94 ¼ × 67 ⅜ × 24 ⅛ inches (239.2 × 171 × 61.1 cm)

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damien hirst, ‘death denied’, 2008 glass, painted stainless steel, silicone, monofilament, tiger shark, and formaldehyde solution, 84 ⅞ × 202 ½ × 74 ¼ inches (215.4 × 514.2 × 188.4 cm)

natural history: damien hirst's iconic formaldehyde sculptures on view at gagosian london
damien hirst, ‘myth explored, explained, exploded’, 1993 glass, painted steel, silicone, monofilament, acrylic, shark, and formaldehyde solution, in 3 parts, each: 78 ⅛ × 42 ½ × 30 ½ inches (198.3 × 107.9 × 77.5 cm)

 

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natural history: damien hirst’s iconic formaldehyde sculptures on view at gagosian london
 
natural history: damien hirst’s iconic formaldehyde sculptures on view at gagosian london
 
natural history: damien hirst’s iconic formaldehyde sculptures on view at gagosian london
 
damien hirst, school daze, 2021 stainless steel, acrylic, electric motor, fish, and formaldehyde solution, 27 ⅝ × 74 ⅞ × 74 ⅞ inches (70 × 190 × 190 cm)
damien hirst, school daze, 2021 stainless steel, acrylic, electric motor, fish, and formaldehyde solution, 27 ⅝ × 74 ⅞ × 74 ⅞ inches (70 × 190 × 190 cm)

project info:

 

name: natural history

artist: damien hirst

location: gagosian, britannia street, london

duration: open from march 9, 2022

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