Damien Hirst is no stranger to taxidermy. With the shock of his 1991 shark piece The Physical Impossibility of Death in the Mind of Someone Living still reverberating, Hirst is back working with the undead in a collaboration with Deyrolle, the renowned house of taxidermy and natural sciences in Paris, for a special philanthropic project in aid of Hirst’s charity, Victim. Damien Hirst avec Deyrolle: Le Cabinet de Curiosités, Signification (Hope, Immortality and Death in Paris, Now and Then) is an online auction and sale hosted by Paddle8; bidding starts on October 14 and closes on October 28, with viewing at the Deyrolle emporium at 46 Rue du Bac in Paris from September 23.
At first it appears that there is just one item for sale, a Wunderkammer or contemporary cabinet of curiosities (pictured) filled with taxidermy foxes and birds, entomology, sculls and skeletons, alongside everyday cleaning products such as Dettol, Domestos and Daz washing powder. And indeed, only one complete curio-filled cabinet will be sold. However, collectors who want a piece (literally) of the action will be able to bid on duplicate items. Fifty lots, mounted and signed by the artist, will support Victim, as well as Deyrolle’s programme of natural-science education and conservation.
“Being able to use Deyrolle’s incredible collection to create my own contemporary Wunderkammer is just amazing,” says Hirst. “People have been making curiosity cabinets for almost 500 years, and it’s something that’s always fascinated me: they inhabit a space between life and death that says so much about who we are as humans and who we might want to be.”
A cabinet for the curious indeed.