The gallery archive presents an exciting opportunity to own a collection of the most established and influential artists of the contemporary art world.
Displayed at London’s Serpentine Gallery in 2006, ‘In the darkest hour there may be light: Works from Damien Hirst's Murderme collection’ remains one of Hirst’s most influential exhibitions to date. Curated by the artist himself, this critically acclaimed show brought together the works of Hirst’s friends and contemporaries, forerunners and followers, the inspirers as well as the inheritors. From Francis Bacon to Sarah Lucas, Andy Warhol to Gavin Turk, Hirst’s exhibition included paintings, sculptures, photographs and installations that situated his own practice within an ongoing tradition of radical postmodernism and unflinching existential contemplation.
To coincide with the show, The Serpentine Gallery and Other Criteria co-published a limited edition of 50 signed print portfolios, specially produced for the occasion by featured artists: Banksy, Don Brown, Angela Bulloch, John Currin, Tracey Emin, Angus Fairhurst, Steven Gregory, Marcus Harvey, Damien Hirst, Rachel Howard, John Isaacs, Michael Joo, Jeff Koons, Jim Lambie, Sean Landers, Tim Lewis, Sarah Lucas, Nicholas Lumb, Tom Ormond, Lawrence Owen, Richard Prince, Haim Steinbach, and Gavin Turk.
Hirst’s exhibition (and the accompanying print collection) takes its title from the Hans Christian Anderson fairytale, ‘The Galoshes of Fortune’ (1838). Typically morbid, Hirst chose the line to reflect the “entropic collection” of “just amassing stuff while you’re alive.” Yet if this is a comment on the darker side of material culture and the marketisation of the art world, Hirst’s choice of title also contains seeds of hope: ‘In the darkest hour there may be light’ rings like a clarion call for politicised art at the start of our new decade, where confrontations with the ecological and economic impacts of materialism must be staged at every turn. In 2020, these special edition prints assume all-new relevance and even stronger resonance, proving that the value of political art is more pressing now than ever before.
Today, few of the limited edition collections remain intact: most have been split apart and sold as individual prints. This special event at the Brighton gallery offers a rare opportunity to see the complete selection of prints, from the private collection of the gallery's founder, Lawrence Alkin, framed and hung together before they are made available to buy. Showcasing the work of household names alongside artists previously unseen in the gallery, the event promises exposure to new names and themes, an opportunity to explore the works that orbit the legendary Damien Hirst, and a timely reflection on the state of the world today.
THE BOX SET:
This limited edition box set was co-published by The Serpentine Gallery and Other Criteria in 2006, to coincide with the exhibition ‘In the darkest hour there may be light: Works from Damien Hirst's Murderme collection’. This rare set is one of an edition of only 50 and contains specially produced works by 23 of exhibition’s contributing artists: Banksy, Don Brown, Angela Bulloch, John Currin, Tracey Emin, Angus Fairhurst, Steven Gregory, Marcus Harvey, Damien Hirst, Rachel Howard, John Isaacs, Michael Joo, Jeff Koons, Jim Lambie, Sean Landers, Tim Lewis, Sarah Lucas, Nicholas Lumb, Tom Ormond, Lawrence Owen, Richard Prince, Haim Steinbach, and Gavin Turk. Each work is signed in pencil or ink. The pieces are loose in paper wrappers (as published). Each is sold separately. The Banksy in this lot is offered with the Certificate of Authenticity from Pest Control.
‘Napalm (Can’t beat the feeling)’ is a limited edition Digital Pigment Print by acclaimed contemporary artist Banksy. Part of The Serpentine and Other Criteria’s 2006 set ‘In the darkest hour there may be light’, the print is hand signed by the artist.
Banksy: anonymous, elusive, absolutely innovative. Little is known about Banksy’s biography but one thing remains certain: his stencils and acts of urban graffiti across the streets of the UK have been nothing short of revolutionary, inspiring a generation of street artists around the globe.
First appearing in 2004, Banksy has reproduced ‘Napalm (Can’t beat that feeling)’ in black, grey and yellow with red ‘blood splatter’ for Hirst’s limited edition collection. ‘Napalm’ remains one of Banksy’s most iconic works to date, reworking Nick Ut’s Pulitzer Prize winning photograph The Terror of War with profound impact. The print depicts Phan Thi Kim Phuc, the victim of a napalm explosion in Vietnam in 1972. Here, Banksy replaces Vietnam Army soldiers with the twin figures of Mickey Mouse and Ronald McDonald: mascots of global capitalism the world over. Deeply unsettling, the smiling faces and colourful clothing of these capitalist clowns mask the horrors of consumer culture and its total disregard for humanity. Powerful and provocative, this masterpiece of political art is hand signed and numbered by the elusive artist himself and is sold with the Certificate of Authenticity from Pest Control.
‘Blue Butterfly’ is a limited edition Screenprint with Glaze by acclaimed contemporary artist Damien Hirst. Part of The Serpentine and Other Criteria’s 2006 set ‘In the darkest hour there may be light’ and is hand signed and numbered by the artist.
‘Blue Butterfly’ by Damien Hirst
Damien Hirst: diamond encrusted skulls; animals exposed in formaldehyde; decomposing butterflies. There’s a reason why Hirst is one of the most celebrated British artists of our time. His work never stops innovating, ceaselessly pushing conceptual boundaries, confronting the nature of art head-on, and dazzling his viewers with existential provocation.
Hirst has always been bewitched by butterflies: in his ambitious 1991 installation ‘In and Out of Love’, the 26 year old artist mapped the duration of the exhibition onto the lifespan of the winged insects, inviting viewers to watch them emerge from their cocoons, make the gallery space their home and, finally, to end their delicate lives in time with the end of the show. Symbolic of death and resurrection, butterflies have continued to pervade Hirst’s work. Here, the wings of a butterfly are revealed in all their gossamer fragility, as sections of blue glaze gives way to the candy-pink background beneath. Bold, brilliant, and beautiful. ‘Blue Butterly’ continues to speak to contemporary audiences, reflecting the endangered status of organic life as natural habitats face the threat of extinction.
‘Dolphin (Bicycle Rack)’ is a limited edition Lithograph in Colours by acclaimed contemporary artist Jeff Koons. Part of The Serpentine and Other Criteria’s 2006 set ‘In the darkest hour there may be light’, the print is hand signed by the artist.
American artist Jeff Koons has had a firm hand in shaping the postmodern art of the postwar period. Known for his ‘inflatable’ animals (towering balloon creatures, cast in shiny stainless steel) and his upscaling of kitsch porcelain knick-knacks, Koons has twice broken the record auction price for a work by a living artist—most recently in May 2019, when his Rabbit sculpture sold for a staggering $91.1 million. Claiming that his work contains no hidden meanings or cultural critiques, Koons nevertheless continues to captivate the art world. Whether or not the pieces themselves are designed with critical commentary in mind, the fact remains: Koons’ artworks may have sparked more controversy than those of any other contemporary artist in recent years.
As part of his Popeye collection, Koons produced a series of stainless steel poolside inflatables, intersecting with various forms of utilitarian equipment (a Dalmatian-shaped lifesaver, thrown over a painter’s ladder; a blow-up caterpillar suspended from industrial chains). This contribution to the Serpentine set, ‘Dolphin (Bicycle Rack)’, features a sketch for an unrealised mash-up of inflatable-equipage: a blow-up dolphin affixed to a bike rack. Loosely sketched, in blue and green felt-tip, the print offers a rare glimpse into the artists’ procedure; or is this just another smoke-and-mirrors move, the pretence of off-hand draughtsmanship concealing a more complex artistic process? Whatever the reality, one thing’s for sure: this hand signed lithograph is a once-in-a-lifetime collectible from one of the world’s most desirable contemporary artists.
Best known for installing her unmade bed in the Tate, contemporary artist Tracey Emin has enjoyed well-deserved notoriety as one of Britain’s most acclaimed artists of the twenty-first century. Moving from installation to illustration to neon signage with artistic agility, Emin is ceaseless: her work never stops breaking our hearts with its sheer honesty and untold intimacy.
Internationally acclaimed artist Gavin Turk is known for his post-Pop aesthetic, which delights in questing the value of authenticity, authorship, and originality in contemporary art. Working in a range of media - from bronze and wax sculpting, to screen printing and photography - Turk’s approach may vary from piece to piece, but his commitment to conceptual provocation remains unwavering.
Part of the generation of Young British Artists, Sarah Lucas rose to prominence in the 1990s. Her work is known for its sexually provocative content, treading the fine line between bawdy humour and unsettling provocation. Straddling sculpture, collage, photography and objet d’art, Lucas’ work is ceaselessly pioneering and enduringly relevant, speaking as lucidly to today’s audiences as it did to its initial viewers over three decades ago.
American artist John Currin is known for his sexually provocative and often off-kilter paintings, pulling together diverse influences, from Renaissance masterworks to pop culture, contemporary fashion models to pornographic magazines. His work is held in permeant collections around the world, including the Tate Modern, and he has had retrospective exhibitions at both the Whitney Museum of American Art in New York and Chicago’s Museum of Contemporary Art.
Part of the generation of Young British Artists, Angela Bulloch is known for her light and sound installations which explore the mechanics of pre-digital systems. Nominated for the Turner Prize in 1997, Bullock has exhibited at galleries across the world, including: The Museum of Contemporary Art, Chicago; The Hayward Gallery, London; Tate Liverpool; The Museum of Modern Art, New York; and the Solomon R. Guggenheim Museum, New York. Bulloch works across medias, incorporating video, installation, sculpture and painting into her practice for a varied and consistently wide-ranging aesthetic.
One of the Young British Artists, Angus Fairhurst graduated in Fine Art at Goldsmith’s college in 1989, where he studied alongside fellow YBA, Damien Hirst. With Hirst, Fairhurst was instrumental in the organisation of ‘Freeze’, the exhibition that would launch the careers of the Young British Artists. Like his some-time collaborator, Sarah Lucas, Fairhurst’s work is characterised by a penchant for visual distortion and tom-foolery, upsetting the familiar to introduce the uncanny and tipping from the comical to the unnerving with easy confidence. Working across a variety of media, including video, photography and painting, Fairhurst is best known for his gorilla sculptures, which depict the primates in various states of existential confrontation.
South-African born artist Steven Gregory is known for his mischievous brand of sculptural humour. With a penchant for mortal remains, Gregory creates sculptures from human bones, often encrusting skulls with malachite, pearl or lapis lazuli and inserting eyes that stare back at their viewer with death-defying presence. These pieces are a comment on the human condition, and they ask us to think about the fine lines that thread between the natural and the manmade, the abstract and the figurative, the comic and the tragic, for an aesthetic with profound and poignant consequence.
British artist Rachel Howard is known for her materially-reflexive artworks; pieces that confront their own physicality and presence, by privileging the surfaces and textures of a given medium, above its ability to represent or depict. Her work explores the interstices between conventional dichotomies—chaos and control, creation and destruction, beauty and brutality—to tease out possibilities latent in the visual process.
American artist Haim Steinbach is known for his contemporary approach to the tradition of objet d’art, or ‘found art’, as pioneered in the work of Marcel Duchamp and Pablo Picasso. Steinbach’s practice focuses on arrangement, exploring the ways in which context influences meaning. “My work,” he notes, “is about the all-too-frequent disconnect between looking and seeing, between being aware that something is there and knowing what it means.” Placing mass-produced as well as hand made objects—from children’s toys to cereal boxes, musical instruments to ancient pottery—on colourful shelves, Steinbach stimulates new associations between these disparate items. In this way, his approach is analogous to poetic composition: the placing of words in a particular order, to speak to the social and the cultural. Steinbach has said of his work that it is “about vernacular, which is a common form of language: things that we make, express and produce.”
Contemporary American artist Sean Landers is known for his self-referential and semi-autobiographical works of art, which experiment across diverse media including painting, sculpture, photography, drawing, writing, video and audio. Landers’ work focuses on the process of artistic creation, rather than the finished product. Known for his performative art, as well as the early body of written work that launched his career, Landers blurs the lies between fact and fiction by incorporating his own experiences while simultaneously developing alter egos that trouble the sincerity of confession. In this way, Landers’ work consistently encourages the viewer’s identification, which in turn promotes a deeper reflection of the self and with their own sense of humanity. Socially engaged, Landers’ work seeks to reveal raw truths about the contemporary art world, always pushing at convention to pioneer new approaches to visual practice.
Lawrence Owen is contemporary British artist, known for his paintings and ceramics that explore the lasting value of Folklore, Paganism and early Mythology in contemporary culture. Through his work, Owen has developed a language reminiscent of artefact and relic, placing him in a tradition of contemporary ceramicists, alongside the likes of Grayson Perry and Elisabeth Kley. In the production of these art objects, Owen looks at primordial themes of ritual and worship, and asks the extent to which these systems still hold sway in consumerist cultures. His aesthetic is characterised by their use of bright colour and bold composition, and the fluid merging of the abstract with the figurative.
Contemporary artist Nicholas Lumb has developed a contemporary approach to objet d’art, or ‘found art’, as pioneered by the likes of Marcel Duchamp and Pablo Picasso. His work focusses on the conventionally ignored or overlooked, demanding that viewers contemplate quotidian or useless items in all of their banality, to foster new meanings. Through the confrontation of material form, Lumb transforms these quiet objects into 'images of themselves’ and, in so doing, challenges our expectations of the value of art and its role in consumer society.
Contemporary American painter and photographer Richard Prince is best known for his ‘re-photography’: the practice of rephotographing an existing image to question the value of artistic appropriation. A refashioning of the twentieth century tradition of objet d’art, Prince developed his ‘re-photography’ while working in the tear sheet department of Time magazine, where he would repurpose advertising photographs in his own practice. According to Prince, “I don’t see any difference now between what I collect and what I make. It’s become the same.” It is this audacious approach, along with his unique painterly aesthetic, that has earned Prince a reputation as "one of the most revered artists of his generation,” according to the New York Times.
Shortlisted for the Turner Prize in 2005, Scottish artist Jim Lambie is known for his colourful sculptural installations. Lambie’s work is often site-sensitive: he locates found object sculptures in unexpected places or repositions pop culture references in high-art contexts. He is perhaps best known for his brightly coloured vinyl work, covering the floors and walls of large spaces with striated patterns to trace the shapes and explore the idiosyncrasies of the architecture. Questioning the limits of use, Lambie’s work asks that we reconsider the conventional function of an object or a site, in order to appreciate its material and sensuous presence in the world.
Contemporary British artist Tom Ormond is known for his depictions of utopian landscapes and fantastical structures that defy the limits of reality. Like the sketches of classic visionary architects Giovanni Battista Piranesi or Étienne-Louis Boullée, Ormond creates vistas of impossibility, which unfold through a surreal aesthetic. His work reflects on the impact of the built environment, questioning the power of place and the role of the artist in shaping contemporary society.
Science graduate turned artist Michael Joo blurs the boundaries between art and science through his investigations into ontology and epistemology, opening interdisciplinary and multi-sensory channels which probe the realities of perception. More interested in how we perceive than in what we perceive, Joo’s work foregrounds questions of fluid identity and knowledge, through a non-linear, process-driven approach. Blending sculpture, painting, photography and print-making, and placing the abstract in dialogue with the figurative, Joo’s work generates loose narratives that explore interactions between places, people and objects with profound effect.
Contemporary British artist Tim Lewis is known for his mechanical sculptures, which explore the intersections between art and science. A graduate of the Royal College of Art in London, Lewis’ work consistently pushes conceptual boundaries, bringing electronic programming and physicality to bear on artistic design. Process is key for Lewis: each work is envisioned in its entirety, and realised in its material form only after an extensive period of development and discovery. His animated pieces ask us to consider the use of mechanics in visual art as analogous to the use of genetic engineering in the field of science, throwing up questions of ethics and social responsibility, while producing visually compelling immersive installations.
Contemporary British artist John Isaacs is known for his confrontational works of art, which challenge the “fast-food guzzling, consumer-driven, resource-eating, air-polluting, earth-poisoning, prozac-popping” reality of contemporary society. Working across a range of different media, Isaacs is best known for his large-scale wax sculptures, which critique base human instincts of greed and consumerism, in fleshy, visceral and often grotesque forms. Yet, while these works appear pessimistic, Isaacs’ lens is often fitted to the utopian, using art to challenge stereotypes, confound expectation, and to explore visions of a more optimistic future.
Contemporary British artist Don Brown is known for his figurative sculptural works, usually depicting his wife Yoko in various states of undress. Harking back to the muse of classical sculpture, Brown modernises the antiquated form by eschewing idealisation: these are intimate and sensuous renderings of Yoko, often produced at three-quarter or half-scale, in a variety of smooth surfaces, from bronze to acrylic. Celebrated for their technical skill, Brown’s works are exemplars of verisimilitude, capturing the subject with a vivid sense of presence. Other recent projects have included oversized sculptural still life and pastel drawings.
Contemporary British artist Marcus Harvey is part of the generation of Young British Artists who rose to prominence in the late 1980s. Combining painting, photography, and sculpture, Harvey explores the cult of iconography in British pop culture, producing depictions of well-known faces, figures, and landscapes in thick gestural style. He is perhaps best known for his contentious, monumental portrayals of moors murderer Myra Hindley, created from plaster casts of a child’s’ hands, which went on display at the Royal Academy of Art in 1997. His work continues to innovate and to politically agitate, and can be seen in public and private collections around the world.
See the full collection of prints at our event on Wednesday 12th February. Tickets at eventbrite.