‘For the love of God’ is the name of the completely diamond encrusted platinum model of a European man’s skull from the late eighteenth or early nineteenth century presently on display in the Palazzo Vecchio. 'For the love of God' was supposedly the first part of what the artist’s mother said when she saw it, followed by ‘what will you do next?’ The creator of the diamond skull is Damien Hirst, 45 years old, who is the wealthiest British artist alive. He made his name for having a penchant for formaldehyde, using it to display various animals, such as sharks, sheep and cows, in glass vitrines. He has a fascination with death, stemming possibly from his time working at a mortuary during his studies at Goldsmiths art school in his youth. The diamond skull was made in 2007 and contains 8,601 ethically-sourced flawless African diamonds, the last being an enormous pink pearl drop diamond placed in the centre of the forehead. It cost 14million pounds to make. It is on display, for only the third time, in the town hall in Florence until May 1st. It was first shown in 2007 at the White Cube gallery, London, and then in 2008 at the Rijksmuseum, Amsterdam.
Here in Florence, the skull is on show in a small blackened out room in the town hall next to the Studiolo (Study) of Grand Duke Francesco I de’ Medici, a room normally viewed by appointment only. That it is open is very exciting, and so the Studiolo will be the subject of the next blog!