Contemporary Art Masterpieces: ‘The Physical Impossibility of Death in the Mind of Someone living’

This is the big kahuna of Britart. It is a big weighty symbol of the cultural impact made by the YBA’s (Young British Artists) in the 1990’s. ‘The Physical Impossibility of Death in the Mind of Someone living’ or ‘The Shark’, is a sculpture by the artist Damian Hirst. The work was made at the invitation of art collector Charles Saatchi. He offered Damian the opportunity to create an artwork at any expense. The result is a sculptural assemblage of objects including a tiger shark, preserved in formaldehyde, inside a steel vitrine. The power of the work relies on its placement. Although a preserved shark would not look out of place in a natural history museum it becomes a totally unexpected object within a fine art gallery setting. And it is a genuinely terrifying to experience the work face to face. The work pits us against the shark which is terrifying but also dead. Damian sets up this conceptual conundrum in the title of the work. ‘The Shark’ challenges the established idea of art. Damian’s work has been influenced by the conceptual art movement. The use of non-traditional materials and emphasis on idea instead of process breaks with established ideas of art making practise. The work, like the YBA group of artists, is big, bold and brash. It is full of bravado and irony and has become an iconic work of British contemporary art.

Read more from the series here;

This entry was published on November 5, 2019 at 2:53 pm. It’s filed under Art Thoughts and tagged , , , , , , , . Bookmark the permalink. Follow any comments here with the RSS feed for this post.

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