DAMIEN HIRST "CONTROLLED SUBSTANCES" 2011
Damien Hirst is arguably the most successful English artist, since establishing his name and his contemporaries associated with the YBAs (Young British Artists).
Hirst's "Spot Paintings" began in the late 1980's, but only became iconic and revered nearly a decade later. All were painted by hand yet gave the illusion of being mechanically produced. Naturally, Hirst further explored this series in a variety of prints and multiples.
Some of the color compositions are random, others calculated and some (such as this work) are based on the chemical structure of narcotics and pharmaceuticals.
This screenprint is associated with his "Controlled Substances Paintings", a subset of his "Pharmaceutical Paintings" series. Hirst began the series in 1993 fusing his spots aesthetic with the chemical structure of dangerous (controlled) drugs falling under government regulation. The series opened with canvases such as "Opium" and "Morphine". This work is notable for its inclusion of both text, numbers and an alphabet.
This work is based on the chemical structure of the drug Meprobamate, which is a medication used to treat anxiety, belonging to the tranquilizer class of medications. For a time it was the best-selling anti-panic/anti-anxiety medication before benzodiazepines dominated the market.
Synthesized in 1950 and marketed under the name Miltown, Meprobamate was one of the first drugs to be widely advertised to the general public. Meprobamate grew in massive popularity over the decade, becoming ubiquitous in America in the 1950's. By 1956, 1 in 20 Americans were using the medication. Popularity waned in following decades as negative side effects and dependancy issues were discovered. Ultimately Meprobamate was outlawed and listed as a controlled substance in 1970.
Coincidentally, a year after this work was created, the European Medicines Agency and Canada banned marketing for the drug.
We often hear about collectors being "hooked" on art...can you resist this classic Damien Hirst?
To learn more about Hirst's "Spot Paintings" check out this interesting essay found on the artist's (remarkably organized) website.
Additional images available on request.
Questions about this piece? Contact us or call +1.416.704.1720
"Controlled Substances Key Spot (Meprobamate): one plate"
United Kingdom, 2011
Screenprint with glaze and debossing in colors on wove paper with full margins
Signed, numbered, and annotated 'Me' in pencil
From an edition of 150
19.87"H 19.25"W (sheet)
28.25"H 27.75"W (framed)
Framed with museum non-reflective plexi
Publisher: Other Criteria, London (with their blindstamp)
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