Damien Hirst is an English artist, entrepreneur and art collector. He is the most prominent member of the group known as the Young British Artists (or YBAs), who dominated the art scene in Britain during the 1990s.
Damien Hirst was born in Bristol and grew up in Leeds. He achieve his A-level with an "E" grade in art and was refused admission to Jacob Kramer school of art. While a student at the Fine Art at Goldsmiths, University of London, Hirst had a placement at a mortuary, an experience that influenced his later themes and materials.
His first "warehouse" show set in 1990 was seen by Saatchi who bought there Hirst's first major "animal" installation, A Thousand Years, consisting of a large glass case containing maggots and flies feeding on a rotting cow's head. Two years later he was offering to fund whatever artwork Hirst wanted to make, and the result was showcased in 1992 in the first Young British Artists exhibition at the Saatchi Gallery. Hirst won the Turner Prize in 1995.
He is internationally renowned and his career was closely linked with the collector Charles Saatchi. Death is a central theme in Hirst's works. He became famous for a series of artworks in which dead animals (including a shark, a sheep and a cow) are preserved—sometimes having been dissected—in formaldehyde. In September 2008, he took an unprecedented move for a living artist by selling a complete show by auction, raising £111 million breaking the record for a one-artist auction.
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