Damien Hirst is an English artist, living and working in England. He is the best known of the group known as the Young British Artists (or YBAs), who dominated the art scene in Britain during the 1990s. His early career was closely linked with the collector Charles Saatchi, and the gallery White Cube before Hirst became independently successful enough to manage all aspects of his own affairs, and to negotiate unprecendented representation with Gagosian Gallery, with whom he recently parted company, as well as White Cube. In September 2008, he made the audacious and rather disloyal move of selling a complete show at auction, Beautiful Inside My Head Forever, at Sotheby's and by-passing both of his galleries. The auction exceeded all predictions, raising £111 million ($198 million), and breaking the record for a one-artist auction.
Death is a central theme in Hirst's works. He became famous for a series of artworks in which dead animals (including a shark, a sheep and a cow) are preserved—sometimes having been dissected—in formaldehyde. The Physical Impossibility of Death in the Mind of Someone Living, a 14-foot (4.3 m) tiger shark immersed in formaldehyde in a vitrine became an iconic work of British art in the 1990s, and the symbol of Britart worldwide. He has also made "spin paintings," created on a spinning circular surface, and "spot paintings", which are rows of randomly coloured circles created by his assistants.
Damien Hirst was the subject of a major restrospective at Tate Modern in 2012.