Tate Modern's Damien Hirst exhibition smashed records to become the most popular solo show in the gallery's history, it announced today.

The exhibition, which ran from April to early September and featured the artist's diamond-encrusted human skull For The Love Of God, attracted 463,087 visitors.

Tate Modern said it was the most visited solo exhibition ever held at the gallery, which opened in 2000.

hirst Damien Hirst in front of his work I Am Become Death, Shatterer of Worlds, at the Tate Modern Gallery in London.


It is the second most visited exhibition in the Tate Modern's history, after Matisse Picasso in 2002 which had 467,166 visitors.

Highlights of the show, seen by almost 3,000 visitors each day, included A Thousand Years (1990), where flies emerge from maggots, eat from a rotting cow's head and die, and The Physical Impossibility Of Death In The Mind Of Someone Living, in which a shark is suspended in formaldehyde.

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Tate Modern Director Chris Dercon said: "We are delighted that so many people came to see and discuss the Damien Hirst exhibition at Tate Modern.

"It was wonderful to see such iconic works brought together in one place and to offer our visitors a chance to experience them first-hand."

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  • Hirst grew up in Bristol with his mother who took a hard line with her rebellious son, cutting up his trousers and melting his Sex Pistols vinyl records on the cooker.

  • In 1992 his <em>The Physical Impossibility of Death in the Mind of Someone Living</em> became the most notable nomination of the Turner Prize, though it didn't actually win. The shark encased in formaldehyde became one of the most iconic pieces of the 1990s. PICTURE: PA

  • As a student, Hirst had a placement in a mortuary, an experience that clearly influenced his later work. PICTURE: PA

  • In 1994 Hirst's piece, <em>Away from the Flock</em>, that features a sheep in formaldehyde, was vandalised by another artist, one Mark Bridger, who poured black ink into the tank, and retitled the work <em>Black Sheep</em>. He was subsequently prosecuted, at Hirst's wish, and was given two years' probation. PICTURE: PA

  • In 1995 Hirst won the Turner Prize for his cow and calf in formaldehyde. PICTURE: PA

  • Hirst wanted to use rotting cattle in an exhibition in New York, but was banned by the city's health authorities because of fears of "vomiting among the visitors". PICTURE: PA

  • In 2000 Hirst was commissioned to paint a mini in the style of one of his famous 'spot paintings', to be auctioned at the Serpentine Gallery's 30th Anniversary in London. PICTURE: PA

  • Hirst's 2001 work, <em>Painting-By-Numbers</em> was a do-it-yourself kit designed to make one of his 'spot paintings' - but part of the exhibition was binned by a gallery cleaner who mistook it for trash. PICTURE: PA

  • In his 2007 exhibition at the White Cube gallery in London, Hirst displayed <em>For the Love of God</em>, a human skull recreated in platinum. It was covered with 8,601 diamonds, worth about £15,000,000. The work didn't sell outright but to a consortium that included Hirst - maybe people were put off by the £50,000,000 asking price. PICTURE: PA

  • In September 2008 Hirst became the first living artist to sell a complete show, <em>Beautiful Inside My Head Forever</em>, by action at Sotheby's. It broke the record for a one-artist auction, raising £111 million. PICTURE: PA

  • With a wealth valued at £215m in the 2010 Sunday Times Rich List, Hirst is reported to be Britain's wealthiest artist. PICTURE: PA