Damien Hirst, "God Knows Why," Sculpture: Glass, painted stainless steel, silicone, oak, stainless steel, sheep and formaldehyde solution.
Noted as the UK's richest contemporary artist (with a net worth of £215m), Damien Hirst smacks his audience in the face with his sick and grotesque sensibility. From his painted skulls to his preserved animal corpses, his pieces centralize around themes of death and, though overtly gruesome, still maintain some inherent quality of beauty. Blatantly political, his sculptures, and particularly this one, seem to reflect the sense of torment and anguish seen through the eyes of animals in this contemporary world. It seems to criticize the food industry and the mistreatment animals of slaughter undergo. His infusion of religion in the work's themes can be observed through the title and the allusion of the crucifixion, and a brilliantly distorted crucifixion at that, of a body upside down just as animals are hung after they are slaughtered. Though I do not know how much I approve of the ethics of using a dead body for artwork, the piece seems evoke a response in the viewer as all good art should.