Hirst’s art is wide-ranging, including installation, sculpture, painting and drawing. In his relentlessly enterprising, unapologetically commercial approach to art, Hirst’s career is closely aligned with that of Andy Warhol and Jeff Koons, the latter of whom has cited him as an influence.
Hirst’s art is clearly influenced by historical and contemporary sources, and constantly challenges the boundaries between art, science and religion. In using biological materials, he joins other contemporary artists of the late twentieth century. Where Hirst differs from his historical and contemporary predecessors is in his display of entire corpses as visual spectacles.
Science is one of Hirst’s most enduring themes, including our unquestioning faith in the power of pharmaceuticals. This theme is examined in the installations ‘Pharmacy’, ‘Medicine Cabinets’ and ‘Instrument Cabinets’ which display collections of surgical implements within steel and glass cases.
“There [are] four important things in life: religion, love, art and science. At their best, they’re all just tools to help you find a path through the darkness. None of them really work that well, but they help. Of them all, science seems to be the one right now. Like religion, it provides the glimmer of hope that maybe it will be all right in the end…”