The Most Thrilling Artworks to Celebrate Shark Week, From Winslow Homer’s Battle at Sea to Damien Hirst’s Infamous Formaldehyde Fish

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It’s Shark Week in America, which, for the uninitiated, is an annual programming block on the Discovery Channel that was originally devoted to “conservation efforts and correcting the kinds of misconceptions about sharks that  helped to spread.” It airs evert summer, a time when the public’s fear of beachside shark attacks is at its heights.

In honor of the wildly popular phenomenon—it is the longest-running cable TV programming event ever—we rounded up some of the best artworks of the fearsome fish. From John Singleton Copley’s dramatic portrayal of a young man’s torturous battle to free himself from the animal’s clutches to Damien Hirst’s infamous tiger shark, here are our favorites.

 

John Singleton Copley, Watson and the Shark (1778)

John Singleton Copley, <i>Watson and the Shark, </i> (1778). Courtesy of the National Gallery of Art.

John Singleton Copley, Watson and the Shark, (1778). Courtesy of the National Gallery of Art.

 

Damien Hirst, The Physical Impossibility of Death in the Mind of Someone Living (1991)

Damien Hirst, The Physical Impossibility of Death in the Mind of Someone Living (1991). Photo courtesy of Oli Scarff/Getty Images.

Damien Hirst, The Physical Impossibility of Death in the Mind of Someone Living (1991). Photo courtesy of Oli Scarff/Getty Images.

 

Macon Reed, (2019)

Macon Reed, Mean Girl Shark Tank (2019). Courtesy of A.I.R. Gallery.

Macon Reed, (2019). Courtesy of A.I.R. Gallery.

 

Don Ed Hardy, (1995)

Don Ed Hardy, Tattoo Seas Shark (1995). Courtesy of Ed Hardy/Fine Arts Museums of San Francisco.

Don Ed Hardy, (1995). Courtesy of Ed Hardy/Fine Arts Museums of San Francisco.

 

Michael Muller,  (2016)

Michael Muller, Sharks (2016). Courtesy of TASCHEN.

 

Katherine Bernhardt, Sharks, Toilet Paper, and Plantains (2015)

Katherine Bernhardt, <i>Sharks, Toilet Paper, and Plantains, </i> (2015). Courtesy of Venus Over Manhattan.

Katherine Bernhardt, Sharks, Toilet Paper, and Plantains, (2015). Courtesy of Venus Over Manhattan.

 

Robert Longo,  (2014)

Robert Longo, <i>Untitled (Bruce)</i> (2014). Courtesy of the artist.

Robert Longo, Untitled (Bruce) (2014). Courtesy of the artist.

 

Robert Nava, Splash Cloud (2020)

Robert Nava, Splash Cloud, (2020). Courtesy of the artist and Vito Schnabel Gallery.

Robert Nava, Splash Cloud, (2020). Courtesy of the artist and Vito Schnabel Gallery.

 

Winslow Homer,  (1899/1906)

Winslow Homer, <i>The Gulf Stream </i>(1899/1906). Courtesy of the Metropolitan Museum of Art.

Winslow Homer, The Gulf Stream (1899/1906). Courtesy of the Metropolitan Museum of Art.

 

Peter Saul, SHARK IN MY BATHTUB (2011)

Peter Saul, <i>SHARK IN MY BATHTUB</i> (2011). Courtesy of the artist.

Peter Saul, SHARK IN MY BATHTUB (2011). Courtesy of the artist.

 

David Shrigley, (2021)

A shark drawing David Shrigley posted to Twitter. Courtesy of the artist.

A shark drawing David Shrigley posted to Twitter. Courtesy of the artist.

 

John Baldessari, (2009)

John Baldessari, <i>Hands and/or Feet (Part One): Shark/Chain</i> (2009). Courtesy of Marian Goodman Gallery.

John Baldessari, Hands and/or Feet (Part One): Shark/Chain (2009). Courtesy of Marian Goodman Gallery.

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