The Tranquility of Solitude (for George Dyer), 2006



The Tranquility of Solitude (for George Dyer)
Triptych, each: 2280 x 1722 x 976 mm | 89.8 x 67.8 x 38.4 in
Glass, painted stainless steel, stainless steel, sterling silver razor blades and scalpels, painted iron, silicone, acrylic, porcelain and chrome sinks, porcelain and bakelite toilets, porcelain tiles, chemical grout, plastic, painted pewter, Absolut vodka bottle, resin, glass syringe, stainless steel spoon, LED lights, Panerai watch, sheep and formaldehyde solution
Image: Photographed by Prudence Cuming Associates © Damien Hirst and Science Ltd. All rights reserved, DACS 2012


Solo Exhibition - 2006
Gagosian Gallery, Britannia Street, London, United Kingdom


‘The Tranquility of Solitude’ was shown as part of Gagosian Gallery’s exhibitions of works by Hirst and Francis Bacon, presented in Brittania Street, London in 2006 (‘A Thousand Years’ and ‘Triptychs’). ‘Tranquility of Solitude’, from Hirst’s ‘Natural History’ series, consists of three flayed sheep carcasses in a remake of Bacon’s ‘Triptych May - June 1973’ (1973). Bacon’s painting depicts the suicide of his lover George Dyer, who died of an overdose on the eve of the artist’s retrospective at the Grand Palais, Paris, in 1971.

The sculpture bears testimony to the formative influence of Bacon on Hirst, who describes the experience of reading Bacon’s interviews with David Sylvester as his “way into art” as a teenager.[1] On acknowledging Bacon’s influence on his work, Hirst explains: “I think you have to move through whatever is in your path because it won’t go away.”[2] Describing painting as mostly a “nostalgic material”, Hirst states that it was on seeing Bacon’s ‘Head II’ (1949), in which the figure appears almost three-dimensional, that he was able to, for the first time, “connect painting to the real world”. Bacon’s technique of containing his figures within three-dimensional ‘space-frames’ relates directly to the ‘Natural History’ series in which Hirst uses glass boxes to frame the animals. In ‘The Tranquility of Solitude’, the glass acts as “something dangerous and something to keep you away” [3] – a material that you can see through despite its solidity.

Hirst makes a direct sculptural reading of Bacon’s painting in ‘The Tranquility of Solitude’, something he considers a natural interpretation: “When [a work] becomes three-dimensional it turns into something else. And [Bacon’s paintings] work incredibly well, three-dimensionally.”[4]

[1] Damien Hirst, ‘Foreword on the Interviews with Francis Bacon by David Sylvester’, Guardian, 13 September 2007

[2] Damien Hirst cited in Interview with Gordon Burn, Claridges’s, 30.06.09, ‘Nothing Matters’, (White Cube/Other Criteria, 2009), 16

[3] 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), 70

[4] Damien Hirst cited in Damien Hirst and Gordon Burn, ‘On the Way to Work’ (Faber and Faber, 2001), 180