Damien Hirst has become pretty renowned in the art world for his formaldehyde-dunked animals, colourful dots and large-scale anatomical sculptures. Hirst's work has often been seen as controversial, but one design from 1990 has just been dismantled due to complaints.
'A Hundred Years' has been removed from the Kunstmuseum Wolfsburg museum in Germany (although you might be able to spot some more Hirst designs on one of the best online galleries), after the animal rights charity PETA, issued complaints about the artwork. The piece features a large glass box, fly larvae and an electronic zapper. Hirst explains that the work is like "a life cycle in a box" as the flies are born, and then killed by the zapper in the centre of the box.
The artwork was part of the 'Power! Light!' exhibition, which explores the relationships between artificial light, modern life and the impact it has on the environment. While it sounds as though the design was in favour of the environment, Peter Höffken, a representative of PETA Germany, has issued a statement saying, "Killing animals has nothing to do with art. It just shows the arrogance of people who literally will stop at nothing for their own interests". Although, it's a little odd that this is the first time PETA is picking up on the work, even though it's been about for the past 32 years.
The Kunstmuseum Wolfsburg museum has responded to the complaints by dismantling the work. The director of the museum, Andreas Beitin, explained to Braunschweiger Zeitung (opens in new tab), "We thought that flies didn’t come under the Animal Welfare Act" – which is probably one of the worst excuses I've ever heard.
While sacrifices (apparently metaphorical and physical) are made for art all the time, it does seem a little unjust to kill hundreds of flies – not to mention the fact that it's pretty gross too. This isn't the first time Hirst has caused controversy though. Last September, Hirst collaborated with Drake to create the cover for the Certified Lover Boy album, and fans were not impressed.
I'm sure this won't be the last of Hirst's pieces to come under the scrutiny from the likes of animal rights activists – after all, his most famous work is a dead shark immortalised in formaldehyde (see above). If you're feeling inspired after all this art talk, but would rather take on a, err, more traditional approach, then make sure you check out our roundup of the best art supplies for painting.