LALIQUE has partnered with the worldwide renowned artist Damien Hirst to create an exclusive collection of crystal panels, “Eternal”, available in three different designs. Hope, Beauty and Love are available in 12 different colours and limited to 50 pieces worldwide, at a starting price of £12,000.00. Throughout history, the butterfly has repeatedly been used as a symbol of life and beauty. In Damien Hirst’s work, the insect also serves as a reminder of the fragility of life. In these stunning works, Hirst captures an image of a butterfly in crystal, for eternity.
The panels filter light, which is in turn rendered blue, pink, amber, green, violet, black or clear, and the diversity of colours combined with the three varieties of butterfly – titled by the artist as Love, Hope and Beauty – allows for a multiplicity of choices. This exceptional collaboration between Damien Hirst and Lalique is an example of two great artisans combining forces to produce a truly beautiful result. Here, Hirst explains the project and his love for butterflies.
One of the most important living artists of this century is collaborating with one of the best-known crystal manufacturers in the world – Damien, what does the collaboration with Lalique mean to you?
I’ve always loved crystal and it’s both beautiful and difficult to work with, so I’m really excited about the project. It’s amazing being able to use all the expert craftsmanship and incredible history of Lalique for something new, and the results are beyond all my expectations. I love that the panels have an almost religious feel, they make you think of stained glass windows which I’ve always adored, it’s the way they manage to capture colour and light so completely and then throw it back out at you.
Crystal is an outstanding and demanding material. What sort of emotions does it evoke? Have you ever worked with crystal before?
Crystals and minerals were the first things I ever collected as a child. I used to spend hours smashing up rocks to find them and then display them all in white boxes. I love how crystal works with the light – either sort of opaquely hinting at it, or throwing out millions of sparkling reflections like a diamond. There’s a massive difference between working with crystal or diamonds. (…) I’ve made these little stained glass windows for my home that incorporate butterflies and skulls and I never tire of looking at them when the sun’s shining.
You first began using butterflies in your work in 1989, after being inspired by seeing flies get stuck on canvases in your South London studio. Taking this idea you started fixing the bodies of dead butterflies to monochrome gloss-painted canvases. Why did you choose the theme of butterflies for the Eternal collection of crystal panels? And what do butterflies stand for in your artwork?
I see butterflies as souls and part of a wider visual language. I’ve always described them as universal triggers; everyone loves them because of their incredible abstract fragility and beauty. But there’s another element that interests me, which is the tension between the kitsch birthday-card kind of image, the power of love and the reality of the actual insect itself. It’s an interesting example of how we use nature to try and express the inexpressible: love, desire, belief and the eternal. They’re really old ideas, butterflies are used in Christian iconography to symbolize the resurrection, and by the ancient Greeks, for the soul. I’ve always loved that they look identical in life and in death, but when the light shines through these panels, it feels like they’re brought back to life in some way.
You once said: “I’ve always looked at art as being the map of a person’s life”. When you look at your own map – what do you see?
I see how amazingly lucky I’ve been. It feels like I’ve been on a rollercoaster and I still can’t quite believe it. But of course my work is always an expression of life because that’s what all art is, and it can’t really be about anything else as that’s all we truly know.