Sculpture on the Move 1946-2016

Group Exhibition. Kunstmuseum Basel, Basel, Switzerland.

19 April 2016 – 18 September 2016

'The Acquired Inability to Escape' (1991)

Photograph by Prudence Cuming Associates
©Damien Hirst and Science Ltd. All rights reserved, DACS 2016

'Sculpture on the Move 1946-2016', the inaugural exhibition at the newly enlarged Kunstmuseum Basel, focuses on sculpture from the end of World War Two to the present. Selected works from the collections of the Kunstmuseum Basel are displayed alongside eminent pieces loaned from international museums and private collections.

Included in the show is an important early vitrine by Hirst, 'The Acquired Inability to Escape'. This sculpture forms part of ‘Internal Affairs’, a series of works Hirst exhibited in his first solo show in a public gallery at the Institute of Contemporary Arts, London, in 1991. The rectangular glass and steel vitrine is divided into two areas, Hirst describes its dimensions, size and shape as the perfect mathematical formula. The larger space contains a desk chair and a table on which cigarettes, a lighter, and a full ashtray sit. Of the use of cigarettes in the piece Hirst explains, “I want a glimpse of an idea of what it’s like to die.”[1] The sealed empty compartment in front of the desk works to produce both a narrative mystery and a feeling of entrapment. The artist has explained the work’s conceptual significance as: “It is like you are spiritually excluded or something, you are getting into the space, and then there is nothing on the other side […] the whole thing traps you and keeps you trapped.”[2]

Other artists featured in the exhibition include Absalon, Carl Andre, Hans Arp, Matthew Barney, Joseph Beuys, Max Bill, Louise Bourgeois, Constantin Brancusi, Alexander Calder, John Chamberlain, Eduardo Chillida, Peter Fischli and David Weiss, Katharina Fritsch, Alberto Giacometti, Robert Gober, Duane Hanson, Eva Hesse, Donald Judd, Mike Kelley, Jeff Koons, Mario Merz, Henry Moore, Burce Nauman, Claes Oldenburg, Gabriel Orozco, Pablo Picasso, Charles Ray, Richard Serra, David Smith, Robert Smithson, Monika Sosnowska, Jean Tinguely, Oscar Tuazon, Danh Vo and Franz West.

[1] Damien Hirst cited in ‘Damien Hirst & Sophie Calle’, ‘Internal Affairs’ (ICA/Jay Jopling, 1991), unpag.

[2] Damien Hirst cited in ‘Like People, Like Flies: Damien Hirst Interviewed’, Mirta D’Argenzio, ‘The Agony and the Ecstasy: Selected Works from 1989–2004’ (Electa Napoli, 2004), 128–129