Myth and Legend

Damien Hirst, 2016

Myth
2016, Limited Edition 20 + 5AP
Porcelain white, bisquit and ivory painted
Size 46 x 11 x 33 cm

Legend
2016, Limited Edition 20 + 5AP
Porcelain white, bisquit and ivory painted
Size 45 x 11 x 59 cm

Fascination with life, death, and science is a common theme running through Damien Hirst's work. This is also true of “Myth and Legend”, the latest edition by Damien Hirst, which was manufactured entirely by hand at the master workshops of Porzellan Manufaktur Nymphenburg in Munich.

"Myth", a unicorn with flayed legs, and "Legend", a winged horse that reveals muscles and bones: what lies behind both figures, as Hirst himself says, is his continuous exploration of the topics of science and religion: "Science broke the spell of mythology. Dissecting a mythological being and showing that it is in no way different from a mortal horse, is nonetheless somehow magical. It is as though you have to destroy the myth to make it real."

It took more than two years to develop and prepare the elaborate sculptures in the manufactory's master studio. The casting, retouching, and finishing of the characteristic features alone took the artisans several weeks. Myth, the Unicorn is composed of 10 individual elements, the winged horse of 11. The fragility of the Unicorn and the expansive wing span of the horse represented particular challenges. In addition, a unique assembly method was developed to remove the highly sensitive wings to transport the work of art.

Instead of a pedestal, which would normally bear an object of this size, Hirst decided on a narrow base, hand-painted in 25 carat fine gold. He also had seven glowing shades of red and various pink and yellow shades developed in the Nymphenburg laboratory for painting the dissected figure parts.
To increase the intensity of colours the artist wanted, the dissected parts are painted in several layers, then fired and painted again. Each figure is thus fired at least five times. At the same time, the anatomical structure of the objects must be retained. The special sculptural details of the figures may not be painted over. Hirst: "Although they show their inner life, these creatures are nonetheless majestic and hopeful. They seem real, not like mythical creatures. They might even thus be a help to us in the real world."

Damien Hirst was born in 1965 in Bristol and grew up in Leeds. In 1984 he moved to London, where he worked in construction before studying for a BA in Fine Art at Goldsmiths college from 1986 to 1989.
Whilst in his second year at Goldsmiths, Hirst conceived and curated ‘Freeze’, a group exhibition that included both his own work and that of his fellow students. The exhibition is commonly acknowledged to have been the launching point not only for Hirst, but for a generation of British artists. For its final phase he painted two series of coloured spots on to the warehouse walls. Hirst describes the spot paintings as a means of “pinning down the joy of colour”, and explains they provided a solution to all the problems he’d previously had with colour. It has become one of the artist’s most prolific and recognisable series, and in 2012 the works were exhibited in a show of unprecedented scale across 11 Gagosian Gallery locations worldwide.
Since 1987, over 80 solo Damien Hirst exhibitions have taken place worldwide and his work has been included in over 260 group shows. He was awarded the Turner Prize in 1995. His contribution to British art over the last two and a half decades was recognised in 2012 with a major retrospective of his work staged at Tate Modern. In 2014 he startet to work with Nymphenburg. Hirst lives and works in London, Gloucestershire and Devon.

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