Hirst’s Skull rebuffs the traditional image of the skull as symbol of death and decay, transforming it into a glorious, glamorous “Victory over Death”. And yet the ambivalence of the message is apparent, where a diamond-encrusted skull may be just a ridiculed prideful attempt to triumph over death.
The work obtains a playful aspect, as opposed to all the typical sinister “memento mori” vanitas images of skulls throughout art history. The work is based on the image of the sensational "For the Love of God", a sculpture created by the artist as a replica of the skull in 2007, which broke all records to become the most expensive contemporary artwork in the world. "Victory over Death” is a meditation on human mortality.