Cerberus (Temple Ornament)


Carrara marble and rubellite

71.5 × 42 × 85 cm (28 1/8 × 16 9/16 × 33 7/16 in.)

In classical imagery Cerberus, a mythological creature guarding the gateway to the Underworld, has three heads. But in the sculpture Cerberus (Temple Ornament) it only has two heads, expressing fierce rage after the third has been cut off. Three inscriptions are visible on the beast’s damaged sides: in Egyptian hieroglyphics, official Coptic and Coptic graffiti.

This "temple ornament" made of Carrara marble and rubellite depicts the fierce animal known as the guardian of the underworld. Damien Hirst rewrites its history. Hieroglyphics predate the writings identifying this creature as the dog of Hades: the work evokes the extent of syncretism in Antiquity, when various civilisations adopted and re-appropriated polytheistic objects of worship.

Hirst's Cerberus (Temple Ornament) was presented for the first time by the Pinault Collection during the 2017 show "Treasures from the Wreck of the Unbelievable" at the Palazzo Grassi.
Damien Hirst's other artwork