SO WHO WAS FIRST, MR HIRST? as Damien Hirst's [Pounds Sterling]50 Million Diamond-Encrusted Skull Draws Accusations of Plagiarism,the Mail Asks

Daily Mail (London), June 11, 2007 | Go to article overview

SO WHO WAS FIRST, MR HIRST? as Damien Hirst's [Pounds Sterling]50 Million Diamond-Encrusted Skull Draws Accusations of Plagiarism,the Mail Asks


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 [pounds sterling]50 million, was said to be nothing more than an expensive imitation of a [pounds sterling]98 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.

With his pieces Charity and Hymn all he appears to have done is create a larger version of the original; if that is the case, it's very lazy work. And the same applies to Valium, which landed him in trouble again, with computer graphics artist Robert Dixon, who accused Hirst of copying his True Daisy, which was featured in the Penguin Dictionary Of Curious And Interesting Geometry in 1991.

Valium is simply the original, enlarged and in colour.

Hirst shocked people when he unveiled Amazing Revelations, his collage created from thousands of dismembered butterfly wings. But the truth was that the celebrated French artist Jean Dubuffet (1901- 1985) was massacring butterflies in the name of art decades ago. Hirst's butterfly work couldn't be older hat.

What really makes me spit is the fact that Hirst threatened to sue the airline Go over advertisements using coloured dots, which he claimed hadcopied his dot paintings. How can you exert a copyright over a dot? Have you ever heard anything more hypocritical it really beggars belief..

LAST week, observers wondered whether Brit artist Damien Hirst has taken the art of imitation a little too far. …

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