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Published on Sep 17, 2007
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This fall, the Metropolitan Museum of Art will present one of the most arresting works of art by the British artist Damien Hirst: "The Physical Impossibility of Death in the Mind of Someone Living." Originally created in 1991, the piece consists of a preserved shark in a tank of formaldehyde. But the shark that will appear at the Met is the second version of this work: The first began to decompose within the tank. Mr. Hirst then recreated the work with a second shark, a 13-foot tiger shark preserved professionally for the future.
Mr. Hirst's shark — on a three-year loan from its owner, Steven A. Cohen — raises question about death and life, but its history also poses issues about the permanence of art. Can a work be so easily reproduced? And if so, what happens to its value?