Is a Human Baby Skull Appropriate as Art?

Julie Ryan Evans
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diamond baby skullOutrageous artist Damien Hirst is at it again. First he brought us the dissected pregnant woman statue, and now he's moved on to a life-sized human baby skull, which he has encrusted in thousands of diamonds and dubbed "For Heaven's Sake." 

He started with the real skull of an infant thought to be about two weeks old, which came from some freaky pathology collection he acquired, according to The Telegraph. He cast it in platinum, then plastered it in pink and white diamonds -- 8,128 pavé-set perfect diamonds, to be exact.

The piece is set to be displayed in London later this year, and has predictably (and probably purposefully) outraged some people, especially those who have lost infants and find it insensitive.

"There is so much heartache around the death of a child whatever the circumstances, and it affects parents so deeply and for so long," Sally Russell of Netmums told the paper. "Mr Hirst may not have intended to be insensitive with his new work, but the fact is it will have a profound effect on many people who will find the subject deeply disturbing."

And I can see that, but good art is meant to have a profound effect on people, to elicit emotions of all kinds, and I don't see a particularly destructive or ill-willed message from this piece. I also don't see it as good art, but that's subjective.

Hirst calls his use of skulls a "celebration against death."

"When you look at a skull, you think it represents the end, but when you see the end so beautiful, it gives you hope. Diamonds are about perfection and clarity and wealth and sex and death and immortality. They are a symbol of everything that's eternal, but then they have a dark side as well."

Hmmm ... OK, but I still think it's creepy and believe it was done more for publicity and shock value than any artistic ache in his twisted soul. But I don't find it particularly offensive either except for the fact that it's an outrageous waste of diamonds!

Do you think this diamond baby skull is offensive or appropriate art?


Image via The Telegraph

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