Damien Hirst, The Physical Impossibility of Death in the Mind if Someone Living, 1991.

First reaction:

Pointless animal cruelty, deliberately shocking.

Emotional response:

Anger. Reluctance to engage further.

What do I think it’s about?

Primarily publicity for the artist. The fact that if you saw this view in another context, you might be about to die (tiger-sharks do prey on humans) yet you still can’t comprehend death. By extension, we take life for granted.

What do I think about the title?

It is thought-provoking and an interesting concept.

Dewater Collier, Still Life with a Volume if Wither’s ‘Emblemes’, 1696

First reaction:

level of detail invites closer viewing, recognisably Vanitas still life with typical symbolism

Emotional response:


What do I think it’s about?

Depicts ‘earthly pleasures’ – wine, fruit, music, jewellery- alongside reminders – skull, hourglass, timepiece – that these things are fleeting and everyone dies.

What do I think of the title?

More of a label, a descriptor.

2 thoughts on “PART 1. Project 1, Exercise 4, Looking at Context

    1. I just read an article that counts up the number of animals that have died for his ‘art’, including an estimate of the house flies in the rotting cow-head thing…. it’s over 900,000. Mind-blowing. What a *******


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