Tate Security Tightened For Hirst Diamond Skull

Diamond and platinum bling sculpture expected to engage public

Damien Hirst’s iconic diamond-encrusted platinum skull will be exhibited in the Turbine Hall at Tate Modern as part of a major retrospective of his work, which is set to open 4 April 2012. The sculpture titled, “For the Love of God” will be displayed until 24 June. The skull valued at £50m will present challenging issues for the gallery, which are expected to step up security for the display. The last public exhibition of the work lasted over 5 months. This exhibit is likely to be compared to a traveling exhibition of the Crown Jewels or the Millennium diamond exhibited at the Millennium Dome in Greenwich, which survived an audacious attempted theft in 2000.The raiders used a JCB digger to smash through the perimeter fence and the gates of the Dome to reach the Money Zone, where the De Beers diamonds, worth an estimated £350m, were housed. Jewels in the exhibition included the 203-carat De Beers Millennium Star, and 11 other valuable diamonds.

The Love of God is a life-size platinum cast of an eighteenth century human skull, covered by 8,601 flawless diamonds, inset with the original skull’s teeth. At the front of the cranium is a 52.4 carat pink diamond. Since it was first exhibited in 2007, For the Love of God has become one of the most widely recognised works of contemporary art. It  represents the artist’s continued interest in mortality and notions of value. Alluding to the iconography of the skull in art as a memento mori – a reminder of the fragility of life – the work can be viewed alternatively as a glorious, devotional, defiant or provocative gesture in the face of death itself.

The Tate said that the skull, appearing for the first time in a UK public gallery, will be housed in a viewing room in the east end of the Turbine Hall, was sold to an investment group in 2007 with Hirst retaining part-ownership. Hirst has described For the Love of God, as an “uplifting” piece that “takes your breath away”.

Other exhibition highlights include “The Physical Impossibility of Death in the Mind of Someone Living” which was commissioned by the art collector Charles Saatchi and features Hirsts signature shark in a tank, a two-part installation In and Out of Love featuring butterflies, as well as 1992’s Pharmacy.This is hardly a retrospective, given Hirst’s age. It will instead cover in-depth two decades of the artist’s output.The exhibition is sponsored by the Qatar Museums Authority and takes place during the period of the Olympics.

Damien Hirst was born in Bristol in 1965. He studied Fine Art at Goldsmiths, University of London from 1986 to 1989 and is considered by many to be the leading figure of the group known as “Young British Artists”. The YBAs are characterized by their entrepreneurial spirit, independence and their ability to manipulate the media.

Hirst dominated the art scene in Britain during the 1990s. His early career was closely linked with the collector Charles Saatchi, however over the last few years Hirst has distanced himself from this association. Hirst’s work explores the uncertainty at the core of human experience; love, life, death, loyalty and betrayal. His work has been exhibited widely,in Britain, the USA, Australia, and Europe. Work is included in many public and private collections.
He was awarded the Turner Prize in 1995.

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