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Damien Hirst rocked the boat with this controversial piece.
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Damien Hirst, The Physical Impossibility of Death in the Mind of Someone Living, 1991 (Sideview). Glass, painted steel, silicone, monofilament, shark and formaldehyde solution. 2,170 x 5,420 x 1,800 mm. © Damien Hirst and Science Ltd. All rights reserved, DACS/ARS 2014.
Preserved Predator
Is this real shark groundbreaking art?

How would you feel coming face-to-face with a 13-foot tiger shark in an art gallery? For his work titled The Physical Impossibility of Death in the Mind of Someone Living, contemporary British artist Damien Hirst wanted to present a shark that was “real enough to frighten you.” So instead of making a sculpture of a shark, he hired a fisherman in Australia to catch a real one. Experts then installed the shark in a glass-and-steel case filled with a chemical solution to preserve it. Created in 1991, this is still one of contemporary art’s most celebrated and controversial works.

The sculpture sparked a storm of media attention. Critics say it has plenty of shock value but little artistic value. Supporters counter that the work is thought-provoking and forces viewers to grapple with the boundary between life and death.

Others take issue with the methods used to create the artwork. Some feel that since Hirst didn’t make the work with his own hands, it isn’t art. But advocates believe that the idea is more important than the process. They compare Hirst’s work to that of modern artist Marcel Duchamp. Early in the 20th century, Duchamp collected commonplace objects, such as a urinal, and proclaimed them “art,” calling them “readymades.” Adding only a signature, Duchamp transformed the urinal into art. Like Duchamp, Hirst tried to redefine something from the real world as art.

This work launched Hirst’s career and sold for millions of dollars. With this now- famous fish, Hirst pushed the boundaries of art, and more than 20 years later, people are still talking about it.

What do you think? Is this art?


This is art. Art does not always have to be created by hand using pencil or paint. Art does not have to be constructed from marble or bronze. This is an object that took much thought and preparation in regard to its "presentation".It was created to be seen by others; to spark a thought and possibly a conversation about life, death, fear, juxtaposition, being free or confined, and much more.
Posted by: Kimberley K. | August 13, 2014 at 3:37 PM
This is art. The artist wants the viewer to see a particular object, in this case, a natural one, from his perspective. In this way, the artfulness of it is how this idea or perspective is presented. The artist has communicated a statement or an emotion through visual means.
Posted by: Karen G. | August 19, 2014 at 5:03 PM
i think that he should not get any credit because, he did not put any artistic effort into this project.
Posted by: Brandon W. | August 19, 2014 at 5:03 PM
I think Mr. Damien Hirst shall get no credentials for this project because it lacks uniqueness and its not original.
Posted by: Brandon W. | August 19, 2014 at 5:04 PM
This is not art, rather is it a representation of humans' disregard and disconnect from the natural world. It exemplifies that for some, nature and wildlife exists for the pleasure of human consumption. I understand utilizing "readymades", however, the process to produce this piece of "art" entailed commissioning the death of a shark.
Posted by: Ryan H. | August 20, 2014 at 7:15 PM

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