Damien Hirst, The Asthmatic Escaped II, 1992

Damien Hirst, The Asthmatic Escaped II (1992)

Damien Hirst’s glass and metal environments communicate through allusions to disease, death, decay, transience, and transformation. His sculptures isolate and display objects in the way that museum cases and aquariums do. Using samples ranging from live butterflies to prescription drugs, he often mockingly records humankind’s attempts to conquer death through science and medicine. At the same time, the artist underscores the human preoccupation with, in his words, “trying to understand the world by isolating something from it” and “killing things to look at them.”

The Asthmatic Escaped II is made of two glass cubes, one of which has narrow openings that both suggest and deny access. Separating the cubes is mirrored glass, which, from certain angles, reflects the viewer, thereby “capturing” the viewer’s image. The Breakaway chocolate bar, the exposed film, and the pile of clothes with an inhaler suggest that the unseen subject of the work, the asthmatic, has escaped the perpetual prison of his disorder. According to the artist, the title refers to British painter Francis Bacon, an asthmatic who died in 1992, the year Hirst made this work.

Damien Hirst on The Asthmatic Escaped II