2. Part One - Contemporary Art · 2.a. Project 1: Art and Ideas

Exercise 5 – Find out more

Still Life Paintings

1 2

Smart History: Art history on Khan Academy

Make notes Listen for info about:
– Hirst
– The Piece
– Hirst’s other work
– Information on other artists whose work is concerned with morality
– References to ‘Time’


  • Title a work of art itself (Hirst Piece)
  • History of art is coming to terms with morality
  • Art through out history has dealt with those big questions
  • When artists create in 20th/21st century, they’re more open to interpretation than art in the renaissance. Open to interpretation
  • Duchamp said ‘A work of art is completed by the viewer’
  • Other animal pieces (sheep cut lengthways)
  • Not original shark – original decomposed
  • Was this by design? A second element to the piece We try to preserve life and ourselves but time still takes us away.
  • Is that the focus of the piece? That no matter what we do we will decay and die?
  • His design didn’t hold up to time
  • Art = Transgenerational. Should outlive us
  • We try to stop time, mummification, chemicals etc. but we can’t
  • Hirst created the impossibility of his own creation
  • Physical and conceptual dimensions to the piece
  • Title and piece together makes you think


Has the contextual information about The Physical Impossibility of Death in the Mind of Someone Living altered your view or response to it in any way?

It hasn’t changed my response to the piece I found I had similar views to the contextual information we reviewed but it did get me thinking a bit more about the piece. The information about the original shark decomposing made me wonder about the further layers of the piece. If Damien Hirt’s piece has more to offer than just what we get from a single viewing. The idea that we try to preserve ourselves to delay the inevitable because, as living beings, we can’t think about or comprehend the idea of death, yet like the original shark, there’s nothing we can do. Although, I was deeply saddened to learn the shark was caught and killed specifically for this piece. I don’t think that was right. But that’s my view on the killing of animals and doesn’t change my response of interpretation of the piece, but my feelings of the piece have changed. I feel it could have been made using a different medium to give the same effect.



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