SO WHO WAS FIRST, MR HIRST? as Damien Hirst's a75 Million Diamond-Encrusted Skull Draws Accusations of Plagiarism,the Mail Asks

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Byline: ROBIN SIMON;EIMEAR O'HAGAN

LAST week, observers wondered whether Brit artist Damien Hirst has taken the art of imitation a little too far. His diamond encrusted skull, For The Love Of God, worth a75million, was said to be nothing more than an expensive imitation of a a147 high street brooch. Hirst claims he was inspired by the Aztecs. Here, ROBIN SIMON, editor of the British Art Journal, says this is not the first time Hirst has been accused of copying other artists.

So are the accusations fair, or is he an original artistic genius?

Look at these pairs of pictures, and decide for yourself.

DAMIEN HIRST is little more than a phenomenon of marketing; his work is the ultimate example of the emperor's new clothes.

His associate, Jay Jopling, has been accused of manipulating the entire market, and of creating - with the support of the modern art establishment - a market for something we could never have anticipated.

Initially, Hirst's work was shocking and crude but now it's just old hat.

His style is incredibly repetitive; let's face it, once you've seen one animal sawn in half and suspended in formaldehyde you've seen them all. He's done the shark, the cow, the sheep, the pigs.

What next? The hamster?

When it comes to Hirst there is no element of artistic manufacture; he doesn't make anything. With art there should always be some element of creative intervention by the artist, but all of Hirst's pieces are created by his team of technicians, who are extremely talented and competent.

And this raises the issue of where the ideas for his work come from - from him, Jopling or the technicians?

Who knows. I suspect all of the above have an involvement. But when you produce art that has had creative input from multiple personalities you inevitably run the risk of plagiarism.

All those people contributing to the ideas process are, of course, going to draw inspiration from other pieces of art they've seen, or simply objects they've observed in their daily lives.

And this is why the charges of plagiarism are levelled at Hirst again and again.

No one can deny that his diamondencrusted skull is incredibly like the pendant it's been compared to.

The very large diamond set in the forehead of both seems an extraordinary coincidence.

I don't suppose Hirst saw the pendant himself, but perhaps one of his 'team' did and then suggested they produce a diamond-encrusted real human skull. …