When Hirst played God w/ butterflies


“In and Out of Love” is its title, and butterflies are everywhere. I’m talking about Damien Hirst’s installation, a piece which rouse more than a voice.


In 1991 the artist  took a room in Soho and organized his first solo exhibit. Butterfly pupae were glued on white canvasses; emerging batterflies flew around, sometimes they mated and layed eggs.


The whole thing was refabricated for Tate in 2012, and even that time it caused a bit of sensation. It doesn’t surprise me: tropical butterflies fly or fall to die on the floor, removed later by the security staff.





Butterflies are the artwork – they develop their form and hatch out from the boards. They break their chrysalises and deposit a fluid that someone believes is butterflies’ blood.  It may sounds sad and creepy but it’s honestly hard to find a better description of the context.

Beauty and horror are mixed together, and so are life and death of course; the third couple is that of art and life, and it’s this one which constitutes a curious paradox.


I’m able of thinking about this cycle and the butterfly monochrome paintings (hanged in the other room)  in terms of concept and inspiration, I want to consider the idea behind it. Butterflies embody Spring and childhood, they are part of our creative side: you look at them, so coloured and so beautiful, just to look them falling, beautiful weave for a death canva.



After a couple of weeks butterflies have to be brought there, since the pupae have all hatched. Looking a shot of the opening what I noticed was the terrible silence that invaded the space. At Tate “In and Out of Love” was a part of a big retrospective, and the visitors were astonished by more than an artwork.


Hirst’s excesses are challenges for the Art Market and for the public, even if sometimes they look quite artificial – not only technically.

The leader of the group known as Young British Artists pushes people to question themselves and their reactions, but in the gift shop we could find prints, deckchairs and umbrellas, all obivosly decorated with colourful butterflies. Buy a souvenir after watching them die!


I’m not being close-minded, but I want to highlight some details. The concept is meaningful if considered theorically, but difficult to appreciate under certain conditions; I had a similar sensation with his Mother and Child divided, a cow and its calf split in two for visitors’ eyes.



Art, philosophy or the transformation of horror into spectacle? Judging may seem easy but we have to keep in mind all the perspectives – Damien Hirst is the UK’s richest living artist, that’s a fact.


Time to consider everything since his next exhibition will be in Venice, between Palazzo Grassi and Punta della Dogana, with the Pinault Foundation. Review the chapter, other discussions are awaited for April 9th.





Carolina Vecchi





All the images are taken from the internet and are under Creative Commons. If we are wrong, please contact us and we will provide to immediately remove them.