Damien Hirst | England b.1965 | For the love of God, laugh 2007 | Silkscreen print with glazes and diamond dust on paper | Purchased 2008 with funds from the Estate of Lawrence F King in memory of the late Mr and Mrs SW King through the Queensland Art Gallery Foundation | Collection: Queensland Art Gallery | © Damien Hirst 2007/DACS. Licensed by Viscopy, Sydney, 2009
For the love of God, laugh 2007
Damien Hirst was born 1965 in Bristol, UK, and lives and works in London and Devon. In 1989 he graduated from Goldsmiths College, London, and is one of the leading figures synonymous with the YBA (Young British Artists) generation. He was awarded the prestigious Turner Prize in 1995, and appeared in the 50th Venice Biennale in 2003.
In 2007, Hirst created headlines with a new sculpture titled For the love of God. Over a platinum cast of a real human skull, he placed nearly 8500 diamonds with a large, flawless diamond marking the position of a ‘third eye’ in the skull’s forehead. The diamonds weighed a total of 1106.18 carats, and the sculpture became one of the costliest art works ever to be offered for sale. Only the real human teeth, set into the cast, were left unadorned.
In the print For the love of God, laugh, Hirst continues to explore notions of mortality, spirituality, decadence and humour. Pictured with an expression of levity in the face of death, Hirst’s skull sculpture is screenprinted with fine detail. The black background is covered with diamond dust which sparkles in the light.
Prints have historically been viewed as a less valuable form of art, due to the print being a reproduction of a supposed original. The application of glazes and diamond dust in this work adds symbolic value to the print, while compounding the dazzling effect of the pictured diamonds and the sense of luxury and desire that they symbolise.
For the love of God, laugh can be seen as a new form of the ‘momento mori’, and also as a contemporary response to our inevitable death — profound concepts are summed up in one wryly humorous quip.