Hirst began his collection in the late 1980s by exchanging his own works with those of his contemporaries and artist friends. It has grown to include works by many international artists of earlier generations: not only postwar masters like Bacon and Giacometti, but also pivotal figures in the history of 20th century art, such as Richard Hamilton, Mario Merz, Bruce Nauman, Richard Prince and Kurt Schwitters. Two themes recur frequently in this selection – memento mori and the animal kingdom – and together they are capable of communicating the spirit of the entire collection, combining masterpieces of contemporary art with fascinating specimens from the natural world.
An independent curator, author, and art advisor, Geuna has contributed a perceptive essay on the scope and nature of this collection as well as a penetrating interview with Damien Hirst. Another essay by Mario Codognato (writer, and curator at Blain|Southern) explores Hirst’s dual role as artist/collector, and analyses his considerable influence, both on his contemporaries and on younger artists whose work is still developing. Accompanying stunning colour plates of all the works in the exhibition, there are also brief biographies of the artists involved.
Elena Geuna is an independent curator, author, and art advisor. Mario Codognato is a writer, and curator at Blain|Southern.
Freedom not Genius – Works from Damien Hirst’s Murderme Collection, accompanies the exhibition at the Pinacoteca Giovanni e Marella Agnelli in Turin, Italy, which presents selected works from Hirst’s art collection, curated by Elena Guena. The exhibition is from 10th November 2013 until 10th March 2013. There are 51 artists in the exhibition: Frank Auerbach, Francis Bacon, David Bailey, Banksy, John Bellany, Nick Bibby, Ashley Bickerton, Peter Blake, Don Brown, Mat Collishaw, John Currin, Tracey Emin, Faile, Angus Fairhurst, Abigail Fallis, Paul Fryer, Alberto Giacometti, Steven Gregory, Richard Hamilton, Marcus Harvey, Rachel Howard, John Hoyland, Gary Hume, Paul Insect, John Isaacs, Michael Joo, Jonathan Kingdom, Jeff Koons, Jim Lambie, Sean Landers, Hyungkoo Lee, Sherrie Levine, Colin Lowe, Sarah Lucas, Mario Merz, Rodrigo Moynihan, Vik Muniz, Takashi Murakami, Bruce Nauman, Olly and Suzi, Gabriel Orozco, Pablo Picasso, Walter Potter, Richard Prince, Kurt Schwitters, Haim Steinbach, Fred Tomaselli, Keith Tyson, Andy Warhol, Rachel Whiteread, Cerith Wyn Evans.
Damien Hirst was born in Bristol in 1965. He first came to public attention in 1988 when he conceived and curated ‘Freeze’, an exhibition of his own work and that of his contemporaries at Goldsmiths college, staged in a disused London warehouse. Since this time Hirst has become widely recognised as one of the most influential artists of his generation.
Through a varied practise of installation, sculpture, painting and drawing Hirst has sought to explore the complex relationship between art, life and death. Alongside over 80 solo exhibitions he has worked on numerous curatorial projects. In 2008, Hirst took the unprecedented step of bypassing gallery involvement in selling 244 new works at a Sotheby’s, London auction entitled ‘Beautiful Inside My Head Forever’.
Hirst was awarded the Turner Prize in 1995 and his contribution to British art over the last two and a half decades has been acknowledged in a major solo retrospective exhibited at Tate Modern, London. He lives in Devon and has studios in Gloucester and London.
Text © Damien Hirst & Science Ltd., All rights reserved, 2012