Damien Hirst, ‘Pack of Lies’, 2008, Sotheby's

Property from a Distinguished American Collection

From the Catalogue
Damien Hirst’s Medicine cabinets fuse the Duchampian tradition of the ready-made with the artist’s profound obsession with symbols of life and death. Pack of Lies is complete with actual pharmaceutical inventory yet, as its title reveals, is an implicit criticism of medicine. While most have complete faith in the medical system, Hirst questions it. Behind a pharmacy counter, these pill bottles are trusted life savers, yet in someone’s home, they could be contraband. With a wry critique of our cultural obsessions and blind assurances, Hirst subverts the virtue of medicine to in turn emphasize the enduring healing powers of art, proclaiming: “I suppose art tries to resurrect the dead” (the artist in Exh. Cat., New York, L&M Arts, Damien Hirst, The Complete Medicine Cabinets, 2010, p. 139).

Kept in orderly precision within a sleek and sterile vitrine, these drugs have been exalted on display as untouchable holy relics. Hirst reflects, “In 100 years’ time they will look like an old apothecary. A museum of something that’s around today” (ibid., p. 139). Through the wide-range specific selection of drugs, Hirst envisions the medicine cabinets as portraits of their imaginary owners. Like Oldenburg’s soft sculptures that evoked anthropomorphic associations of quotidian items from everyday life, Hirst elaborates: “I chose the size and shape of the cabinet like a body. I wanted it to be kind of human, like with an abdomen and a chest and guts” (the artist in Exh. Cat., Naples, Museo Archeologico Nazionale, Damien Hirst, 2004, p. 105-106). If the humanized medicine cabinet indeed functions as a mirror, it is a potent signifier of humanity’s fraught endeavors to overcome mortality through science—which is, perhaps, ultimately nothing more than a pack of lies.
—Courtesy of Sotheby's

Private Collection, New York (acquired directly from the artist)
Gift of the above to the present owner

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