Sat 21 March 2009, Financial Times

Calm and collected

By Jackie Wullschlager
For 20 years, from shark to spot paintings to skull to Sotheby's, what Damien did next has mesmerised the public and inspired and stifled his contemporaries in equal measure. Few artists have invented, as Hirst has, a new way of making art that is both a breakthrough in iconography and uses a whole new repertoire of materials: animals in formaldehyde, pharmaceutical cabinets, more diamonds than the market can easily supply. As a result, not only has Hirst towered over the Young British Art movement; the strength of his cold, clinical vision and impersonal tone has more or less crippled the evolution of any other sort of art by his generation in the UK. It is no coincidence that the two most original, brilliant British-born painters among his peers, Cecily Brown and Chris Ofili, long ago chose to live and work abroad.