Boxes, 1988



1730 x 2620 mm | 68.1 x 103.2 in | Dimensions variable
Household gloss on cardboard boxes
Image: Photographed by Prudence Cuming Associates © Damien Hirst and Science Ltd. All rights reserved, DACS 2012


Solo Exhibition - 2013
ALRIWAQ, Qatar Museums Authority, Doha, Qatar
Solo Exhibition - 2012
Tate Modern, London, United Kingdom
Freeze - 1988
Surrey Docks, London, United Kingdom


"It’s primarily about the meaning of objects."[1] 

‘Boxes’ was installed for the first phase of ‘Freeze’ (1988), the three-part exhibition Hirst organised and curated whilst in his second year at Goldsmiths. The work constitutes 81 household gloss-painted cardboard structures. ‘Boxes’ is intended to be re-fabricated whenever the piece is exhibited so that the work always looks new. The piece can be seen in part as Hirst’s departure from arranging “already organised elements with built in personalities” in the collages (1983 - 87). This departure was to be completed in its entirety with the spot paintings

In 1984, much of the materials for Hirst collages came from objects he’d discovered in a neighbour’s abandoned house in North London. Mr. Barnes, its recently evicted occupant was a hoarder who’d amassed, “sixty years of existence in one room,” in what Hirst describes as the, “absolute ultimate [art work] that no one saw.”[2] ‘Boxes’ was made when the artist was beginning to tire of using “nostalgia that had been accumulated through age,” the concept that had largely driven his interest in collage.[3] He explains: “In the collages, I became Mr. Barnes, taking his stuff then collecting my own stuff and adding to it, then, at the end, sweeping it into a pile in the middle of the floor and making first the ‘Boxes’ works on the wall, then the spot paintings.”[4]

‘Boxes’ is shown for the first time since ‘Freeze’ at Tate Modern’s ‘Damien Hirst’ retrospective in London, 2012.

[1] Damien Hirst cited in Damien Hirst and Gordon Burn, ‘On the Way to Work’ (Faber and Faber, 2001), 51

[2] ibid., 51

[3] ibid., 120–121

[4]  Damien Hirst cited in ‘An Interview with Damien Hirst’, Stuart Morgan, ‘No Sense of Absolute Corruption’ (Gagosian Gallery, 1996), 22