Artist Damien Hirst’s diamond-studded baby skull riles up parenting groups

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Artist Damien Hirst, (you know, the dead-animal-in-formaldehyde guy) has a new exhibition this month, and the controversy is already upon us. One of his new works, called "For Heaven's Sake," is a platinum-cast infant's skull encrusted with more than eight thousand pink and white diamonds, and will be displayed at the Gagosian gallery's exhibition space in Hong Kong in late January. The baby's skull is supposedly modeled on that of a days-old newborn, part of a creepy, Dead Ringers-esque, nineteenth-century pathology collection acquired by Hirst.

The diamond skull thing is nothing new for Hirst; In 2007, he was trying to sell his "For the Love of God," a platinum-recreated human skull featuring more than eight thousand, six hundred diamonds, for one hundred million dollars. There were no takers. 

Now parenting groups are claiming it's offensive to those who have mourned the loss of a child. Sally Russell, founder of parenting group Netmums, said,

"There is so much heartache around the death of a child whatever the circumstances, and it affects parents so deeply and for so long. Mr. Hirst may not have intended to be insensitive with his new work, but the fact is it will have a profound effect on many people who will find the subject deeply disturbing."

Hirst, who has taken inspiration from the skulls of ancient Aztec art, has said

"What's the maximum I could do as a celebration against death? When you look at a skull, you think it represents the end, but when you see the end so beautiful, it gives you hope. Diamonds are about perfection and clarity and wealth and sex and death and immortality. They are a symbol of everything that's eternal, but then they have a dark side as well."