Damien Steven Hirst was born in Bristol in 1965 and grew up in Leeds. He started working in construction when he moved to London in 1984. After being admitted to Goldsmiths college, Hirst studied for his BA in Fine Art from 1986 to 1989. As a student, he worked at a mortuary, which further increased his interest in the subject of death and embalmment materials. Hirst is well-known for his installation, sculpture, painting and drawing which tend to explore the relationship between art, life, and death; his most prominent works feature dead animals preserved in formaldehyde. The controversial subject matter of his work has helped to make him the richest artist alive. Hirst currently lives and works in London, Gloucestershire, and Devon.
Hirst was a prominent member of the Young British Artists or YBAs. In July of 1988, he organized an independent exhibition titled Freeze, featuring himself and his fellow students from Goldsmiths. In 1990 he continued to organize exhibitions with East Country Yard Show and Modern Medicine. While lacking a cohesive style or medium, the YBAs were united in the shock value of their subject matter. Additionally, they provided an notable departure from the traditionally gallery-curated exhibitions, by showing their own work in abandoned warehouse and factories. During his early phase, he created a series of spin paintings and spot paintings which he has said represent the more optimistic aspects of life. After rising to prominence along with YBAs, Hirst has continued to work on curatorial projects. In 2006, he curated an award winning exhibition (In the darkest hour there may be light) of work from his ‘Murderme’ collection at the Serpentine Gallery. In 2007, he exhibited his piece ‘For the Love of God’, a platinum skull covered in pavé-set diamonds, at the White Cube Exhibition Beyond Belief.
Since 1987, over 80 solo Damien Hirst exhibitions have taken place worldwide and his work has been included in over 260 group shows. Hirst’s first major retrospective ‘The Agony and the Ecstasy’ was held in the Museo Archeologico Nazionale in Naples in 2004. His contribution to British art over the last two and a half decades was recognized in 2012 with a major retrospective of his work staged at Tate Modern.