(British, b.1965) is one of the leaders of the Young British Artists
—a group of contemporary British artists, including Fiona Rae
, Liam Gillick
, Sarah Lucas
, Ian Davenport
, and Michael Landy
—the winner of the 1995 Turner Prize, and, as of 2009, the wealthiest artist in history. He rose to fame after the success of two warehouse shows he organized featuring his friends and his own work; at his second show, advertising executive Charles Saatchi purchased Hirst’s A Thousand Years
, which features a glass case enclosing a rotting head of a cow swarmed with flies. Saatchi promoted Hirst and the Young British Artists for several years, until the relationship ended in 2003.
Hirst’s work has generated enormous controversy, in part, for its morbidity and fascination with medicine, which is evident in several of his series: the encased dead animals in various states of preservation, the incorporation of butterfly wings into stained glass-like images, cabinets filled with pharmaceuticals, and diamond-encrusted skulls. A team of assistants help Hirst carry out his projects; his spot paintings and spin paintings are almost entirely the work of others. In the 1990s, Hirst was also a public figure for drunken and drugged spectacles, but he has since stopped drinking and smoking. In 2012, his works were exhibited at the Tate Modern in London, and his spot paintings were part of a world exhibition The Complete Sport Paintings 1986–2011
held by the Gagosian Gallery in 11 of its galleries simultaneously, from January 12 to February 18, 2012.