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Damien Hirst’s New Studio Complex Is Called “Science”

by Allison Meier on August 20, 2013

Damien Hirst Science

Rendering for Damien Hirst’s Science Gallery (all images courtesy Designspace Architects unless otherwise noted)

While his toxic, formaldehyde-based work may not be the most environmentally friendly art production in the world, Damien Hirst’s new personal studio and gallery in Stroud, England — where his team will be plunging ever more creatures into preservatives — is being designed by a small, eco–conscious firm.

Damien Hirst Science

Design for Science Gallery & Studio

Designed by Designspace Architects of Bath, England, a firm “dedicated to the pursuit of well-designed, environmentally conscious solutions,” the curiously named Science Gallery & Studio and Science Formaldehyde buildings have an incredibly sterile look to them, all sleek lines over aluminum and glass with only the most minimal accents built over the frame of a former plastics manufacturing building. “The artist’s production of large-scale art work requires highly specialised accommodation, including freezer storage and a fire protected art store,” the architects note.

It’s not a terribly exciting-looking building, but like any white wall gallery space, the goal is to make the art pop, and as you can see in the above rendering it should do exactly that for just about any giant anatomically exposed sculpture or splattered spin art painting Hirst might display beneath the dappled daylight. Outside by the river will be a sculpture garden, maybe for some more monolithic waterside aggression in the vein of his “Verity” statue, which menaces and/or protects the port of Illfracombe in Devon, England.

Damien Hirst Science

Design for Damien Hirst’s Science Gallery

Damien Hirst Science

The formaldehyde building for Science Gallery

Damien Hirst's "The Physical Impossibility of Death in the Mind of Someone Living" at MoMA (photograph by the author)

Damien Hirst’s “The Physical Impossibility of Death in the Mind of Someone Living” at MoMA (photograph by the author)

The dead animals preservation station will have plenty of ventilation for the hazardous chemicals, and the building will serve as a gatehouse for visitors. Yet why the “Science” name? Sure, there is much science in the chemicals of liquid preservatives, and of course he’s an artist fixated on the details of anatomy, but the science seems to never really be the point of Hirst’s art, especially when poor preservations in the past have resulted in sadly disintegrated sharks.

Maybe it’s a call back to the Spirit Collection at the Natural History Museum in London, an impressive collection of formaldehyde specimens including those collected by Charles Darwin and even a giant squid named Archie, where Hirst is said to have gotten some initial inspiration for the submerged animals. Either way, the art market alchemist seems to be on a bit of a building spree, with the studio and private gallery coming not too long after his announcement of a south London public gallery for his personal art collection, planned to open in 2014, the name for which has yet to be revealed.

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  • Den Hickey

    “where Hirst is said to have gotten some initial inspiration for the submerged animals.”

    You mean where Hirst found the first thing he would rip off and call his own idea? Just like he did with most of his other works, except he started stealing from other artists and ruining their careers (who wants a rhinestone covered skull after Hirst, even if you were the artist he ripped off?) with nary a qualm, literally saying “fuck them”.

    • Godbluff

      I can’t think of a single artist that didn’t rip someone else off. Art needs to borrow to exist and develop. It’s just that Hirst has this megalomaniac tendency to take them to court, ironically.

      • Den Hickey

        No, its just that Hirst has this tendency to not change the idea in any major way and gets away with it because of his wealth and power. He doesn’t just borrow… he outright steals.

        • Dain Q. Gore

          I would anticipate the requisite Picasso pseudo-attributed quote, “Good artists copy: great artists steal,” at this point in response. I say “pseudo” because no one ever attributed it to him until Steve Jobs said it was Picasso’s.

          http://quoteinvestigator.com/2013/03/06/artists-steal/

          I see it almost every time in comment threads of this nature, as if a non-attributable quote by Picasso, paraphrased by Jobs makes it a trump card. In fact, it has become a thought-terminating cliché at this point, as sometimes stealing is precisely that.

          I would then ask someone like Shepard Fairey or Richard Prince if they would agree with the spirit of that quote.

          • Den Hickey

            Good and great artists borrow. Talent-bereft hacks and hype fueled art darlings who have run out of ideas (almost before he had his first idea, in Hirst’s case) steal.

          • Chris Topher Chivington

            amen

  • Den Hickey

    Mental prowess? As Matthew Collings described his work, “Look, Mom! I’m interested in death!” Thats part of the problem with Hirst. His work truly lacks much depth beyond that. He covers it up with production values, mock-profound titles, and quoting directly from other artists too powerful and established for him to just outright steal from (Bacon comes to mind).

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