Thursday, 2 September 2010

Damien Hirst

I follow the Guardian on twitter, or maybe just the arts and culture tweets, I'm not sure, but anyway it's one of the twitters I check regularly because I like reading the short posts.  The post I recently clicked on was written by Dalya Alberge concerning the idea of plagiarism in regards to Damien Hirst. You can read it here. Now, I'm not saying that Hirst is  so phenomenal in the canon of art that he shouldn't be touched with criticism or anything like that, nor am I saying that I like his work very much (there are but a few I do actually like).  But the fact is, saying something like Charles Thomson (one of the idiotic stuckists) did, that "Hirst puts himself forward as a great artist, but a lot of his work exists only because other artists have come up with original ideas which he has stolen," [...] "Hirst is a plagiarist in a way that would be totally unacceptable in science or literature." is one of the stupidest things I've heard heard come from a practicing artist. What the hell do you think Postmodernism is then? All we do in contemporary art is take inspiration from other artists, other movements and any other things we can get our grubby little creative hands on, to create something new, or transform it into something else. Copying word for word or picture for picture would be unacceptable. But the transformation of something old into something new doesn't constitute (in my mind) as plagiarism. One of my favourite painters, Ged Quinn, takes a myriad of other ideas from paintings, literature and other old images and transforms them (using an old Dutch painting technique by the way) into new universes to enter.  Therefore, he takes and is inspired by, and then transforms. I mean, how many artists have painted their own Venus' and Olympias? You can't possibly go back and say they stole from Manet or Botticelli so should be titled plagiarists. And as for John LeKay, stating, "he first thought of nailing a lamb's carcass to wood like a cross in 1987, only to see it reproduced by Hirst." You just contradicted your own statement. You thought about doing it. You didn't. He did. It's like regressing back to people who turn around, and after seeing a beautiful abstract painting say 'but I could do that', but you didn't! The key point is that you didn't.  There are many people walking this over full Earth that think of the same ideas, but there are fewer who put the thoughts into motion. You can't throw your toys out of the pram, LeKay, because someone had a similar idea and actually decided to go through with it. And to be honest, this quote (also by LeKay) is just the cherry on the cake, "Damien sees an idea, tweaks it a little bit, tries to make it more commercial. He's not like an artist inspired by looking inwards. He looks for ideas from other people. It's superficial". Funnily enough, artists don't have to be solo loners, staying indoors trying to find their inner selves. Not saying that you shouldn't do that if that's what makes your art good. But that isn't what constitutes a great artist. If that were true we wouldn't have Pop Art at all. You can be inspired by anything you want, and have endless amounts of fun, I really don't think it's got anything to do with plagiarism. You'd never believe they all went to posh art schools would you.

On a lighter, nicer note, I finished two more little illustrations and I bought a new A3 sketchpad today so I can go back to drawing some more of the women again.


Anonymous said...

I think you may have misunderstood re: Lekay. Lekay did produce the work first.

Anonymous said...

what about Hirst threatening Cartrain? Was hirst right to protect his diamond covered skull from being copied when he copied it from somebody else?

Anonymous said...

Hirst did Cartrain a favour. No-one would have heard of Cartrain otherwise.
Hirst's a definite plagiarist though. 'inspiration' my arse.