LONDON – British artist Damien Hirst has joined forces with two charities to create two limited edition digital prints to raise funds for the health sector.
Fans have until Monday to purchase one of the original artworks at a fraction of the normal price.
“I wanted to do something to support the many people who are risking their lives to help those in need during this time of crisis,” Hirst said in a statement.
“The rainbow is a sign of hope and I’m so pleased to release these prints to help fund the brilliant work being done by NHS staff across the country.”
The Butterfly Rainbow and Butterfly Hearts works mark a return to the artist’s obsession with colorful insects in which he created images using photographs of butterfly wings.
Rainbows have taken on a specific symbolism during the pandemic with thousands of people around hanging homemade artworks in windows as a show of support to frontline workers and a symbol of hope.
The number of editions produced will be limited by demand during the seven days of the sale, which launched on May 18, according to Heni editions, which is trading the pieces.
All profits will be donated to NHS Charities Together, a collective of 230 organizations that work to provide funds and support for the United Kingdom’s National Health Service, and to The Felix Project, a London charity that funnels surplus supplies from the food industry to charities and community groups that work with people in need.
“I am in awe of charity workers and community groups across the country who are risking their lives and health to deliver food to the most vulnerable in this time of crisis,” Hirst said of The Felix Project.
“I want to pay tribute to them with this rainbow heart, a symbol of solidarity and hope, and support the Evening Standard and The Independent’s campaign to raise money for these vital organizations.”
In addition to the prints, Hirst has released 12 postcards with rainbows superimposed on UK landmarks also available on the Heni website.
The 54-year-old is widely considered one of the founders of the raucous Young British Artists movements in the 1990s where he rubbed shoulders with Sarah Lucas, the Chapman Brothers and Tracey Emin.
Hirst became well known for his controversial animals suspended in formaldehyde, perhaps the most iconic of which was a tiger shark in a turquoise tank titled The Physical Impossibility of Death in the Mind of Someone Living.
His artwork For the Love of God, a platinum cast of an 18th-century human skull encrusted with 8,601 diamonds, triggered a debate in the art world over the extortionate prices of contemporary artworks with asking price of £50 million.
The Turner-award winning artist became well known for becoming one of the leaders of factory-style art, with a massive operation to produce thousands of works that at the height of its success employed up to 250 people.
In October 2018, he scaled back the production company with 50 layoffs to focus on his art, according to his spokesperson.