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jtucker's picture

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It has all the marks of a quintessential Hirst: it's large, in your face, has a few skulls thrown in, and is rife with controversy. 

This work is a spiced up version of one of his medicine cabinet pieces. Hirst has been working on this series since 1981. In fact, his first medicine cabinet was made from his grandma’s leftover pills from when she died, which he specifically asked her to leave him. Because that's not an odd request of your ailing grandmother.

After creating two of these cabinets shortly after his nana’s passing, Hirst decided to produce a series of these works that were all titled after Sex Pistols' tracks on their debut album Never Mind the Bollocks, Here’s the Sex Pistols. Needless to say, Hirst is never one to pass up a chance at making a buck, so he has continued to make these cabinets throughout the duration of his career.

It's not been all been smooth sailing, though. Hirst has been accused of plagiarizing these pieces. The artist Joseph Cornell exhibited medicine bottles on pharmacy shelves as early as 1943. But a little plagiarism accustaion has never knocked Hirst off his game before, and he has continued to produce these works.

The title for this piece is taken from the seventeenth-century British philosopher Thomas Hobbe. In his book, Leviathan, Hobbe pleads for a social contract and sovereign rule. Without it, he projects society will revert back to its barbaric natural state with no culture and living in constant fear. This title in light of this work could be a commentary on how modern medicine is a loophole for this contract that Hobbe endorses, or perhaps it is just Hirst capitalizing on the creativity of others yet again. Either way, the work likely speaks to self-preservation through the use of modern medicine rather than through social cooperation as Hobbe proposed. It really seems all too fitting to see Hirst create a work of art that endorses self-interest in light of the fact that he has made a career for himself by pissing people off and stealing ideas to get ahead in the art world. Well played Hirst, well played.