Jacob's Ladder


Glass, stainless steel, steel, aluminium, nickel, cork and entomological specimens

236 x 870 x 12.3 cm (92 15/16 x 342 1/2 x 4 13/16 in.)

Over 3,000 species of insects arranged in columns by family and increasing size comprise Jacob's Ladder. Referring to the biblical story of Jacob, who dreamt of a ladder between Heaven and Earth, this work is one of the Entomology Cabinets Damien Hirst began making in 2008.

Hirst's interest in the life cycle and the moment of death prompts him to give science, and more specifically medicine, a pivotal place in his work. Art, life and death interact in his installations and paintings. The butterfly has a key place in the British artist’s work for its ability, as he puts it, to keep the appearance of life in death.

Jacob’s Ladder illustrates Hirst’s conviction that, in science, it is necessary to "kill things in order to see them". It was exhibited for the first time by the Pinault Collection during the “Reliquaries” (“Reliquaries”) show at the Laennec Hospital Chapel in Paris (2018).
Damien Hirst's other artwork