Mickey Mouse and Damien Hirst are strange bedfellows. Hirst (b. 1965) is a multidisciplinary artist foremost in the group dubbed Young British Artists (YBAs). He burst onto the scene in the 1980s, a very promising maker of paintings, sculptures, and more. He has become extraordinarily successful, which does not necessarily mean that his promise has been fulfilled.
Hirst has never found his Mickey Mouse, that gateway to brand immortality, and his increasingly wide variety of projects—cabinets full of insects or cigarette butts, diamond-encrusted skulls, album covers for Red Hot Chili Peppers and others—show a bit of desperation. No longer able to get by on his youth, he employs a large number of assistants to produce works that cost a great deal but leave an empty taste in the mouth. Hirst is, in his own way, most recognizable and most hated among high-profile artists, much as Mickey Mouse is in terms of animation. The art market, which is all about money, loves Hirst.