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Damien Hirst butterfly stained glass window - ‘It’s a Wonderful World’ (2001) is the first work in Hirst’s series of 'Kaleidoscope' paintings, in which thousands of butterfly wings are placed in intricate patterns reminiscent of stained-glass windows. Whilst the butterfly is one of Hirst’s most enduring “universal triggers”, in the kaleidoscope paintings the use of the insect differs to earlier works.

Decades after this career-defining exhibition, Hirst remains fascinated by butterflies. He’s arranged their wings into psychedelic patterns in his kaleidoscope paintings, turned them into stained glass windows in his cathedral prints, presented them neatly in rows for his entomology cabinets, and more. I finally got to the Tate Modern to see the Damien Hirst exhibition yesterday and his butterfly ‘paintings’ are stunning. Kaleidoscopic, geometric mandalas, some of which glow like stained glass windows, they are quite breathtaking to behold.

These works set important precedents for Hirst, who has constantly tackled similar and related subjects, be it in his monochrome paintings made of vast numbers of flies, forming a bizarre crust on the picture surface, or his medicine cabinets, or his ornate butterfly paintings arranged to resemble stained glass windows.

A work by Damien Hirst on loan to the Cleveland Museum of Art is visually stunning. Designed to resemble a trio of stained-glass windows from a Gothic cathedral, it almost seems to emit light. The ‘Kaleidoscope’ paintings reference the spiritual symbolism of the butterfly, used by the Greeks to depict Psyche, the soul, and in Christian imagery to signify the resurrection. The works are reminiscent of, and in the case of this work a direct copy of a stained glass window.

However, whilst the grandeur of the wings in the ‘Kaleidoscope’ series evoke stained glass windows, and are often assigned spiritual titles, the ‘Entomology Paintings’ are named after phases and characters in Dante Alighieri's tortuous vision of the afterlife, the Divine Comedy. As Hirst explains, the paintings are: “beautiful and horrific at the same time, you can’t help but be drawn into it, seduced by it.

Doorways to the Kingdom of Heaven. Damien Hirst. The works are reminiscent of, and even sometimes directly copy stained glass windows. Damien Hirst cited in Damien Hirst, ‘I Want to Spend the Rest of My Life Everywhere, with Everyone, One to One. The works are reminiscent of, and even sometimes directly copy stained glass windows (‘South Rose Window, Lincoln Cathedral’ (2007)). Their titles similarly often reference Christian iconography, and Hirst chose to name a collection of paintings in 2008 after entries in The Book of Psalms.

Constructed in the shape of a classical church, stained glass window, the butterflies lie in a very precise pattern to mimic the sun illuminated, colored glass. Hirst’s Kaleidoscope paintings are created by laying colorful butterfly wings into household paint and arranging them according to a very specific pattern, laid out and executed by Hirst.

Whilst the ‘Kaleidoscope’ paintings directly connect with Christian iconography – one collection was named after entries in the Book of Psalms, and others replicated patterns from cathedral stained glass windows – Hirst's new work draws on specifically Eastern philosophical traditions. Like mandalas themselves, which are used as an aide.

During that period stained glass windows were considered a predominant pictorial art form. It is prohibited to catch some species of butterfly now and the persuit of collecting is underappreciated but signficant finds are made by collectors and thier supplies nourish science (Brereton 2004). Damien Hirst South Rose Window.

From early on, mortality, as demonstrated by his work with butterflies, has been an obsessive theme of the critically-acclaimed artist. He is fascinated by butterflies’ incredibly brief, colorful lives, and is known to knit the colored patterns of butterfly wings into symmetrical stained glass-like. The perfect symmetry plays with light, colour and beauty as presented in Gothic stained glass windows and the circular patterns of mandalas. About the artist.