<M122/337 Cells of breast cancer, light_micrograph_SPL.jpg>, 2008



<M122/337 Cells of breast cancer, light_micrograph_SPL.jpg>
3600 x 2436 mm | 141.8 x 95.9 in
Inkjet print and household gloss on canvas with glass, pins, needles, blades and fish-hooks.
Image: Photographed by Prudence Cuming Associates © Damien Hirst and Science Ltd. All rights reserved, DACS 2012


“Art’s about life and it can’t really be about anything else … there isn’t anything else.”[1] 

The ‘Biopsy’ series takes as its subject the results of biopsies conducted on diseased cells. The images are extracted from science photo libraries, then inkjet or silkscreen-printed onto canvas before being worked on by the artist with paint and collage. The titles derive from each biopsy’s complete digital name.

The attractive colours of the canvas surface are, on closer examination, variously furnished with broken glass, human hair, teeth, needles, pins, fish hooks and scalpel blades. Hirst previously addressed the conflict between dark subject matter and appealing visual image in ‘When Logics Die’ (1991). Of the pathology photographs used in these early mixed media works, he explains that they are: “completely delicious, desirable images of completely unacceptable and undesirable things”.[2] In a similar manner, the ‘Biopsy’ paintings “pull you in” with their colour and form “and then push you away” on the realisation of both their detail and subject.[3]

[1] Damien Hirst cited in Damien Hirst, ‘I Want to Spend the Rest of My Life Everywhere, with Everyone, One to One, Always, Forever, Now’ (Booth-Clibborn Editions; Reduced edition, 2005), 20–21

[2] ibid., 21

[3] Damien Hirst cited in ‘An Interview’, Hans Ulrich Obrist, ‘Beyond Belief’ (Other Criteria/White Cube, 2008), 26