Damien Hirst, ‘For the Love of God’, 2011, IFAC Arts

Damien Hirst’s For the Love of God diamond skull stands amidst the genres of art, history and religion as an unprecedented and conspicuous totem of death. Petrified into their settings, do the diamonds attempt to pay indulgences to God, as the title and lavish exterior suggest? Or is its creation a memento mori reminding us of the evanescence of human life? Does the skull defy or submit to death?

Influenced by a Mexican skull encrusted in turquoise and found in the British Museum, with the exception of the original teeth of the platinum cast human skull, the entire piece is encrusted with 8601 flawless pavé-set diamonds. The skull, which was purchased from a London taxidermy shop, has been forensically analysed to show that it once belonged to a 30-year old European male who lived some time between 1720 and 1810. All diamonds were ethically sourced for the work.

Signature: signed and numbered

About Damien Hirst

Damien Hirst first came to public attention in London in 1988 when he conceived and curated "Freeze," an exhibition in a disused warehouse that showed his work and that of his friends and fellow students at Goldsmiths College. In the nearly quarter of a century since that pivotal show (which would come to define the Young British Artists), Hirst has become one of the most influential artists of his generation. His groundbreaking works include The Physical Impossibility of Death in the Mind of Someone Living (1991), a shark in formaldehyde; Mother and Child Divided (1993) a four-part sculpture of a bisected cow and calf; and For the Love of God (2007), a human skull studded with 8,601 diamonds. In addition to his installations and sculptures, Hirst’s Spot paintings and Butterfly paintings have become universally recognized.

British, b. 1965, Bristol, United Kingdom, based in London, United Kingdom