A Human Skull and 8,601 Diamonds

In 2007, Damien Hirst, created For the Love of God, an artwork in which he covered a human skull in platinum and 8,601 diamonds. “For the love of God, what are you going to do next?” his mother asked, prompting the title of the most expensive piece of contemporary art ever created (Steinmetz, 2009). Hirst is a British artist who was born in 1965 and whose work is purposely controversial and morbid (Wainwright, 2021). Death and mortality are recurring themes in his artwork. He has produced art pieces of dead bisected animals submerged in formaldehyde solution held in two glass cases exposing the insides of the animals. Hirst even found that his feeling of the terror of death was dampened by his daily exposure to corpses, but it did not diminish its mystery (Manchester, 2009). He was once photographed as an adolescent laughing next to a decapitated human head. Hirst continued the For the Love of God concept by covering an infant’s skull with pink diamonds the following year. His work has been highly criticized and even taken down. Officials from the New York City Department of Health banned Two Fucking and Two Watching because it would make people sick (Fineartmultiple, 2022). Hirst’s artwork appears to have no bounds, ranging from human remains to animal bodies to live insects. People have slammed him for being brutal to animals and insensitive to those who have lost a loved one, a child, or an animal to death. Art is supposed to ignite ideas, provoke conversations, and break boundaries but at what point do artist hit when their work is more harmful to society than innovative? Is Damien Hirst getting away with being labeled an artist? What would the public do or say if their neighbor or coworker was doing this type of art?

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