Damien Hirst, the enfant terrible of the 1990s Britart movement, will receive the first full-scale retrospective of his work at Tate Modern next year, including his diamond-encrusted skull which has not yet been seen in a public gallery.
The exhibition will bring together over 70 of his works from the past 20 years including his celebrated shark suspended in formaldehyde and the four-part sculpture of a bisected cow and calf.
Mr Hirst shot to fame as one of the leading members of the “Young British Artists” movement which became known for its shock tactics, use of disposable material and entrepreneurial savvy.
The 46-year-old remains one of the UK’s most influential, and wealthiest, contemporary artists and has seen the value of his work skyrocket. The diamond skull, entitled “For the Love of God”, sold for £100m in 2007 when it was bought by a group of investors including Mr Hirst.
His life and work has even been used by the London Business School to teach MBA students and managers how to develop winning business strategies.
But he continues to divide critics sharply. Many see him mainly as a wily businessman while others praise him for his exploration of death.
The exhibition, which runs from April to September, is likely to draw a record number of visitors as it coincides with the Olympic Games, when London will be teeming with foreign visitors.