British Artist Damien Hirst
What is Art?
The question of what defines "art" comes up often when discussing the works of Damien Hirst, a member of the Young British Artists who rose to fame in the 1990's with sculptures and other art installations that pushed the bounds of what we could call art. Many, in fact, called Hirst's products obscenity and openly protested their display.
Some of the most provocative works of Hirst's include his series of dead animals suspended in formaldehyde and sometimes partially dissected. Animals that have been on display have included a mother cow and calf and a shark, among others.
A common theme in Hirst's art is death. One of his most famous pieces is a platinum skull encrusted with $20 million worth of diamonds. The skull includes real human teeth from an actual skull. Hirst led a group of art collectors who bought the piece when it didn't sell at auction for the $75 million asking price.
Some have argued that the only difference between Hirst's preserved dead animals and others that were around long before him is that Hirst has art collectors willing to pay millions of dollars for his. One particular collector that helped boost Hirst into prominence is Charles Saatchi, who had a falling out with Hirst in 2003 but before that had spent tens of millions of dollars on Hirst art and helped make Damien Hirst the richest living visual artist.
^ Seriously, it's a skull encrusted with diamonds
Just when you thought the whole skeletons-with-jewels thing went out of style after The Goonies, Damien Hirst managed to bring it back with this piece. It cost more to make than 25 average American men will make in their entire lifetimes, but it's worth even more to the art world. The diamond skull is Damien Hirst at his absolute peak, revealing an artist and an ego-maniacal fetishist in one piece.