Sat 13 September 2008, Financial Times

Beauty and the beasts

By Jackie Wullschlager
F rom his first Freeze exhibition 20 years ago to the Sotheby’s sale on Monday and Tuesday, Damien Hirst’s timing has been infallible. Hirst is both opportunist and an artist so viscerally in touch with his own age that a Greek sense of kairos , of a fated, propitious moment for action, attends his every move. Was it chance that he launched “Beautiful Inside My Head Forever”, the exhibition of his 223 new pieces, the same week as the opening of this autumn’s first major museum show, Tate’s centennial Francis Bacon retrospective ? The earliest piece in that show, a 1933 “Crucifixion”, is symbolically owned by Hirst, and the final entry in Tate’s catalogue is Bacon’s note, written a month before he died in April 1992, that “at the Saatchi collection there is a very interesting installation by a young man called Damien Hirst called ‘a Thousand Years’. It is of a cow’s head in one compartment and in the second part they breed the flies which swarm around the cow’s head it really works.”