Damien's Dots Morph into Mickey
He built a name and a fortune with formaldehyde-preserved animals, live butterflies and a rotting cow head.
Art collectors of Art Kabinett social media network instantly recognize his works.
Now, Damien Hirst has returned to his trademark colored spots to deconstruct Disney’s favorite vermin, Mickey Mouse.
Hirst, who famously employed assembly lines of thousands to produce his unremitting grids of color, has boiled down Walt’s most famous mascot to 12 spots.
But rest assured… this won’t be funding a second Hirst castle, for proceeds of the sale will go to the charity Kids Company.
Hirst says: “Mickey Mouse represents happiness and the joy of being a kid and I have reduced his shape down to the basic elements of a few simple spots.
The artist said he was inspired to paint the Disney character because it reminded him of “the joy of being a kid”.
He said: “Mickey Mouse represents happiness and the joy of being a kid and I have reduced his shape down to the basic elements of a few simple spots. I hope people love it, because it is still instantly recognizable - Mickey Mouse is such a universal and powerful icon.”
“Mickey”, painted in household gloss on canvas, will be auctioned next month at Christie’s to raise money for children’s charity Kids Company.
The artist follows in the footsteps of Andy Warhol, Roy Lichtenstein and Claes Oldenburg, who have all painted the iconic mouse during their careers.
Francis Outred, head of post-war and contemporary art at Christie’s Europe, described Hirst’s interpretation of the popular Disney character as a bringing together of two icons.
She said: “Damien’s is an exciting and hugely significant addition to this rich artistic vein of Mickey depictions. Taking his own universally recognised painterly language – the spots – and applying it in a striking yet simple composition to Mickey, the resulting image speaks of the profound way that both icons have entered our collective consciousness.”
Damien Hirst, who first started working on his ‘spot paintings’ in 1986, has painted over 1,000 artworks in the series.
His “Pharmaceutical” paintings, which are among his best known works, consist of canvases painted with a series of randomly colored circles.
Two signed paintings in the Pharmaceutical series thought to be worth £33,000 were stolen from a London Gallery last month.
Speaking about his spot paintings in 2001, Hirst said: “To create the structure, to do those colors, and do nothing. I suddenly go what I wanted. It was just a way of pinning down the joy of color.”
“Mickey” will be on view to the public as part of Christie's auction’s pre-sale exhibition from Saturday 8 February.
Kids Company is a charity organisation that works with young ex-offenders and disadvantaged children through inner-city schools in London, a drop-in center in Camberwell, and the Urban Academy in Southwark. By 2012, the charity provided help for about 17,000 London children.
The organisation was founded in 1996 by Camila Batmanghelidjh.
Kids Company aims to restore trust and provide an environment in which kids can begin the healing process, using a support system that includes psychotherapy, counselling, education, arts, sports, hot meals, and various other practical interventions.
Kids Company depends on the financial support of charitable trusts and businesses.
In 2012, the charity helped draw attention to a substantial increase in the number of London children suffering from hunger and malnutrition. It reported that some young people have had to forage in bins for food, sometimes eating raw meat.
Most of the worst affected children are from the families of illegal immigrants, but there have even been cases of hunger among the children of low income or benefit dependent parents.
Kids Company reports that in five inner city schools, teachers say that at least seven out of ten pupils have issues with food security.