Skip to main content

A modern artist’s take on Darwin’s classic

The cover for Penguin Books' 150th anniversary edition of On the Origin of Species

Love him or hate him, British artist Damien Hirst is at least always provocative. He continues that tradition with the ghoulish cover for Penguin Books’ 150th anniversary edition of On the Origin of Species. In a Guardian blog post today (which includes a larger version of the cover titled “Human skull in space”), Hirst calls it an honor to do the cover and notes enjoying the “contentious aspects” of the book when he read it many years ago. The artist offers this description of his work:

The painting sits firmly in the tradition of “still life” and is made up of objects I’ve come to imbue with my own meanings, some of them Darwinian in origin, and that I guess are seen in other areas of my work. The painting has an X-ray-like quality to it, as if it is revealing something about the structure of the objects painted. I suppose the work, in a modest way, acknowledges Darwin’s analytical mind and his courage to believe in those ideas that questioned the very fabric of existence and belief in his time.