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Damien Hirst Interprets Mickey Mouse

With his iconic status, universal appeal and ability to emotionally connect with generations of people all over the world, Mickey Mouse has inspired many world-renowned artists, including Andy Warhol, Roy Lichtenstein and Claes Oldenburg. British artist Damien Hirst is the latest to follow in these famous footsteps with his very own interpretation of Disney’s best-loved character.

Damien Hirst was invited by Disney to create a unique piece of art that combines the fun and energy of Mickey Mouse with Hirst’s own unique style. The artist took inspiration from Mickey’s round shapes and created “Mickey”, household gloss on canvas, 1829 x 1054 millimetres.

“Mickey” will be auctioned in aid of the charity Kids Company as part of the Post-War and Contemporary Art Evening Auction, which will take place at Christie’s headquarters (8 King Street, St. James’s, London) on Thursday 13 February at 7pm. “Mickey” will be on view to the public as part of the auction’s pre-sale exhibition from the 8 until 13 February 2014.
Kids Company is a charity which Hirst has long supported. Based in London and Bristol and established in 1996, it provides practical, emotional and educational support to vulnerable inner-city children and young people.

Carlotta Saltini, Vice President, Marketing, Mickey Mouse and Friends, for The Walt Disney Company EMEA says: “Damien Hirst’s “Mickey” painting is a great example of a modern, innovative and creative interpretation of the world’s most famous mouse whose never-ending appeal spans across generations of audiences. We’re also thrilled that this collaboration will benefit vulnerable children and young people.”

Damien Hirst comments, “Mickey Mouse represents happiness and the joy of being a kid and I have reduced his shape down to the basic elements of a few simple spots. I hope people love it, because it is still instantly recognisable – Mickey Mouse is such a universal and powerful icon.”

Camila Batmanghelidjh, Founder and Chief Executive of Kids Company says: “Maltreated children often feel very alone. Having been victimised, they lose their sense of power and potency. In cartoon characters like Mickey Mouse they find a friend, sometimes a protector and the hope that one day they’ll leave the harm they have endured. Damien Hirst to the children of Kids Company has been a genuine hero. He has mobilised resources to help transform lives by offering children a brighter future.”

Francis Outred, Head of Post-War and Contemporary Art, Christie’s Europe adds: “As an icon of cartoon and consumer culture and one of the classic designs of the twentieth century, Mickey Mouse has provided inspiration to generations of great artists from Roy Lichtenstein, whose ‘Look Mickey’ was arguably his first piece of Pop Art, to Andy Warhol, who idolised him in his ‘Myths’ series, as well as Claes Oldenberg to name but a few. Damien’s is an exciting and hugely significant addition to this rich artistic vein of Mickey depictions.

Taking his own universally recognised painterly language – the spots – and applying it in a striking yet simple composition to Mickey, the resulting image speaks of the profound way that both icons have entered our collective consciousness. We look forward to exhibiting the painting in London, and to offering it at the Post-War and Contemporary Evening Auction in February. We are honoured to play a part in raising funds for such a worthy cause as Kids Company.”

Collaborations with artists, designers and visionaries started with Walt Disney himself. He pushed the boundaries and expectations to create spectacular new things and many “firsts”, such as the first full-colour feature-length animated film and the first theme park. And following the company’s founder’s passion for art and creativity, The Walt Disney Company continues to encourage collaborations with contemporary artists.

In 1954 Walt Disney and Salvador Dalí collaborated to produce Destino, a short animated film. Walt Disney famously commented on collaborations by stating: “You’re a genius. I’m a genius. So imagine what we can do together.” Andy Warhol’s Mickey Mouse interpretation is particularly iconic and belongs to a portfolio of ten screen prints called ‘Myths’ published in 1981. The series is based on different characters from American pop culture which have become icons and have defined generations.

Image credit:
Photographed by Prudence Cuming Associates
© Damien Hirst and Science Ltd. All rights reserved, DACS 2013

About Damien Hirst

Damien Hirst was born in 1965 in Bristol and grew up in Leeds. In 1984 he moved to London, where he worked in construction before studying for a BA in Fine Art at Goldsmiths college from 1986 to 1989.

Whilst in his second year at Goldsmiths, Hirst conceived and curated ‘Freeze’, a group exhibition that included both his own work and that of his fellow students. The exhibition is commonly acknowledged to have been the launching point not only for Hirst, but for a generation of British artists. For its final phase he painted two series of coloured spots on to the warehouse walls.

Hirst describes the spot paintings as a means of “pinning down the joy of colour”, and explains they provided a solution to all the problems he’d previously had with colour. It has become one of the artist’s most prolific and recognisable series, and in January 2012 the works were exhibited in a show of unprecedented scale across 11 Gagosian Gallery locations worldwide. He was awarded the Turner Prize in 1995.

Since 1987, over 80 solo Damien Hirst exhibitions have taken place worldwide and his work has been included in over 260 group shows. His contribution to British art over the last two and a half decades was recognised in 2012 with a major retrospective of his work staged at Tate Modern. Hirst lives and works in London, Gloucestershire and Devon.