Damien Hirst – Kalediscope

While on the hunt i found these amazing pieces of art by the ever so controversial artist, Damien Hirst. I didnt even realise that he did Kalediscope paintings, everytime I think of his work I just think of the diamond skull and the LSD pieces (no offence to Damien Hirst lovers out there.) But i actually really love these pieces and can see myself basing a lot of my inspirtaion off some of them. Here are some of the pieces!

“I’ve got an obsession with death … But I think it’s like a celebration of life rather than something morbid.”

The first ‘Kaleidoscope’ painting, ‘It’s a Wonderful World’, was created in 2001. Originally inspired by a Victorian tea tray found by Hirst, the works are made by placing thousands of different coloured butterfly wings in intricate geometric patterns into household paint.

Works from the ‘Kaleidoscope’ series were first exhibited as part of ‘Romance in the Age of Uncertainty’ at White Cube, London, in 2003. In 2007, Hirst presented a major series of the paintings in the solo show, ‘Superstition’, at Gagosian Gallery, London Davies Street and Beverley Hills.

The ‘Kaleidoscope’ paintings reference the spiritual symbolism of the butterfly, used by the Greeks to depict Psyche, the soul, and in Christian imagery to signify the resurrection. The works are reminiscent of, and even sometimes directly copy stained glass windows (‘South Rose Window, Lincoln Cathedral’ (2007)). Their titles similarly often reference Christian iconography, and Hirst chose to name a collection of paintings in 2008 after entries in The Book of Psalms.

Whilst the butterfly is one of Hirst’s most enduring “universal triggers”, in the ‘Kaleidoscope’ paintings he differs from his use of it in earlier works. Previously, the inclusion of live butterflies, as in the installation ‘In and Out of Love’ (1991), or whole dead ones in the butterfly monochrome paintings, was partially an exploration of “the way the real butterfly can destroy the ideal (birthday-card) kind of love; the symbol exists apart from the real thing.” Recalling someone once saying to him: “Butterflies are beautiful, but it’s a shame they have disgusting hairy bodies in the middle,” Hirst chose to use only the iridescent wings in the ‘Kaleidoscope’ paintings, divorcing the butterflies from “the real thing”. Titles such as ‘The Most Beautiful Thing in The World’ (2003) reflect the idealised beauty they encapsulate.

The two largest ‘Kaleidoscope’ paintings, ‘Enlightenment’ (2008) and ‘I Am Become Death, Shatterer of Worlds’ (2006) are 17 feet long, and each include over 2,700 butterflies. – Taken from http://www.damienhirst.com/sympathy-in-white-major-a-ab

Hope you enjoyed!

Cerys xo


About cerysjames

A 19 year old Textile Design student studying in Cardiff! I decided to start up a blog as a diary for all things textile! Mostly inspiration and exhibitions I've been too. My favourite things are printing and having a big imagination!

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