Damien Hirst – Artist - Not Nature Lover

Damien Hirst – Artist - Not Nature Lover
In 2012, British artist Damien Hirst exhibited over 70 of his works at Tate Modern. His use of animals and invertebrates (living and dead) in his art is both legendary and controversial.

Damien Hirst’s first solo exhibition "In and Out of Love" was held in Soho, London in 1991.
It consisted of a windowless room painted in white. Butterflies were seen emerging from their chrysalis stage, dined on fruit and died (some say prematurely) in the midst of onlookers.

A similar exhibit was re-enacted for the Tate Modern; it was reported that 9,000 butterflies died for the "sake of art" in Hirst’s show.

This seems abominable to me, a self proclaimed nature lover who actually collected Lepidoptera in my childhood, which no doubt has captured the imagination of many children.

The hobby of butterfly collecting is not new. Although it was popularized during Victorian times, it is actually frowned upon today. (Perhaps more people see the beauty of butterflies as free spirits in nature, not captivity.)

PETA (People for Ethical Treatment of Animals) have called Damien Hirst a "sadist." When he covered a bicycle with butterfly wings for Lance Armstrong, the same organization labeled his work "barbaric and horrific."

Let’s be honest: many butterfly species have seen a decline due to diminishing habitat, not an occasional butterfly net swooping up one of these graceful creatures. Some purists (me included) believe butterflies should be allowed to live out their abbreviated lives in nature, as God intended.

Other works of art by Hirst in the 2012 Tate Modern exhibition are: the infamous sheep in formaldehyde and a severed cow’s head (rotting and surrounded by flies).
I wonder if museum-goers prefer attending this exhibit before or after dinner.

In this vast universe, someone liked/loved Hirst’s work "I am Become Death, Shatterer of Worlds" (2006) so much so that it was purchased for 2.2 million pounds in 2010.
This is a canvas covered with the wings of thousands of (now dead) butterflies.
Including over 2,700 butterflies, this is one of his largest "Kaleidoscope" paintings, measuring 7 X 17 feet.

"I’ve got an obsession with death… But I think it’s like a celebration of life rather than something morbid."
(Damien Hirst cited in Damien Hirst and Gordon Burn, "On the Way to Work" Faber and Faber, 2001.)

From Hirst's 'Kaleidoscope' paintings comes "Superstition," a collectable art print.

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