'The Physical Impossibility of Death in the Mind of Someone Living' 1991 Damien Hirst .Britain Critical Study

Essay by _courtenay_Junior High, 9th gradeA+, July 2005

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This artwork is a controversial sculpture ,it depicts a real 14ft tiger shark suspended in a tank(213 x 518 x 213cm) of formaldehyde. The sculpture was created in 1991 by Damien Hirst t has an estimated value of $11.55 million and is located in the Saatchi Gallery, UK .It is a modern work exploring the processes of life and death ;the ironies, deceits and desires of the human race. The infamous piece can be grouped into glass tank pieces. The shark is a metaphor for mortality, the viewers imagination is focused on the pickled sharks jaws; jaws of death stopped in motion. Although the shark is an animal rather than a someone it is human death that the title refers to .It symbolises the end of human consciousness ,feelings and sensations.

"I like the idea of a thing to describe a feeling. A shark is frightening, bigger than you are, in an environment unknown to you.

It looks alive when it's dead and dead when it's alive.... I like ideas of trying to understand the world by taking things out of the world.... You expect [the shark] to look back at you".

(Damien Hirst)

Hirst uses the colour white for the framework of the tank to turn the viewers focal point onto what's inside it .The shark is suspended in what looks like its natural environment to further enhance its frightening appearance, he uses murky blue/green formaldehyde and an excess of space around the shark to create this effect. There is a strong sense of horizontal direction throughout the sculpture due to the rectangular shape of the tank and the angle at which the shark is suspended.

Damien Hirst's artwork can be interpreted through the subjective and post-modern frames, the piece makes the viewer feel emotion and leads the...