Damien Hirst’s Shark

Watching   Khan Academy video on The Physical Impossibility of Death in the Mind of Someone Living, there was a discussion on the title. Is the title actually part of the artwork and does it contribute in a meaningful way. I think it helps to give a context to the artist’s idea. Contemporary art is more open to interpretation, allowing the public to have more individual responses. Du Champ : ” A work of art is completed by the viewer.”

While the viewer knows the shark is dead, it appears to be swimming. It is not in a state of decay. However, this is the second shark. The first shark piece that Hirst created dissolved and decayed.

Would this have been something Hirst wanted as part of theme of death. To use an actual shark, dead, but suspended in time seems to speak as an on-going reminder of death. I like the idea that the artwork would also “die” whereas if it had been a painting  it would have more permanence.

Hirst’s “Away from the Flock” is a similar sculpture, a glass case filled with formaldehyde and containing a dead sheep in a life-like pose. ( There are 3 versions of the sheep.) “A Thousand Years” is a decaying cow’s head with blood, maggots and flies all encased in glass and steel. Within the piece is a contraption that electrocutes the flies that touch it. Hirst has also created sculptures of butchered animals in formaldehyde such as “The pursuit of Oblivion” and “God Knows Why”.

Not keen on the sort of taxidermy or decaying animal art that has shock value.



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