This is “Wretched War – The Dream Is Dead”, a work of art by Damian Hirst. It’s probably one of my favorite works of art, ever. (And as an Art Historian, I can assure you that I have seen and studied a LOT of art. Trust me.) I know that it might come across as pretentious to name Damian Hirst as a favorite artist, but I do. Can’t help it, especially this piece. It may have something to do with the fact that this is a shiny life-size sculpture of a half-dissected, beheaded, pregnant woman, thus combining some of my favorite things in one image. (Not that I’m that partial to pregnancy, but it added to the whole.)
The sculpture is cast in sterling silver, and it isn’t the first cast Hirst made of this mold. If you’ll look up “Wretched War”, or “The Virgin Mother”, you’ll see that those are exactly the same sculpture, cast in other metals. I don’t mind. I like this one best. Not only is it the shiniest (yes, I am that shallow), I also saw this one in real life on an exhibition in The Hague. The exhibition was about anatomy lessons in art and included things like Rembrandt’s “The Anatomy Lesson of Dr Tulp”, skulls and “death masks” of 19th century criminals, Matthew Day Jackson’s “Cadaver Table”, Damian Hirst’s “Fear”, and many more lovely items that made me feel nostalgic about the days of public dissections. It was glorious as a whole, but even surrounded by all that awesomeness, this particular work of Hirst always stayed with me. It’s reminiscent of Günther Von Hagens famous “Body Worlds”, but somehow it’s almost more intriguing…
The exhibition I saw it at has been a while ago already… but I’m now writing a paper on this work and its “siblings”, and I just wanted to share this beautiful thing with you. Enjoy.
PS: In the spirit of preventing legal action, the fourth picture belongs to photographer Leonieke Aalders.