Victory Over Death

by Damien Hirst, 2008

A single photogravure etching with hand-colouring in gouache.
Edition of 58. Each print is signed by the artist on the front and numbered on the reverse

There are few artworks that have provoked as much praise and criticism as Hirst’s For the Love of God, a skull cast in platinum encrusted with diamonds, first unveiled at a solo show at White Cube in 2007 in London. This was Hirst’s most expensive artwork to date. Travelling around the world, the diamond skull was also exhibited the following year at the Rijksmuseum in Amsterdam, where it was displayed alongside Hirst’s personal selection from the museum’s seventeenth-century collection. Linking the Vanitas theme of the skull with beauty and desire – diamonds are, after all, a girl’s best friend – For the Love of God has since become symbol for the unfettered consumerism of the pre-2008 recession era. Given its iconic status as one of the best-known contemporary works of art it can also be seen as Hirst’s own ultimate memento mori. The title for the print version of the diamond skull, Victory over Death, published early in 2008, suggests as much. It was printed at Paupers Press, from two plates, like the previous skulls etchings, but highlights were added through hand-colouring to create the effect of optical reflections on the diamonds. Hirst hand-coloured the final proof himself and the entire edition was treated as per this template by Mike Taylor and Simon Marsh. Victory over Death is the only etched – and the largest – version of the diamond skull.

  • 13119.5 x 108 cm (47 1/16 x 42 1/2 in)