Why is there so much controversy over Damien Hirst in the art world?
He has been called many things – a con artist, a sell out, no talent, and even not an artist at all.
It seems that with increased success, wealth, and notoriety comes intense public scrutiny. He has achieved the fame of richest artist ever.
But, where did he get his ideas from? Is he a sell out by charging such enormous prices for his pieces?
Damien Hirst Criticism
These are just a few of the things Damien Hirst has been criticised for:
A Sell Out?He has been accused of being money-grabbing - being more focussed on making money than creating art. In 1998, he bypassed the gallery system and sold an entire show of new art at the auction house Sotheby’s. He made a record breaking $198 million!
Damien Hirst has been criticised for his emphasis on commercialism and selling artworks for outrageous prices, such as “For the Love of God”, a diamond encrusted skull. This cost £14 million to create, but according to reports sold for over £50 million.
Damien Hirst Plagarism?Many have claimed that he copied their ideas, something that Hirst apparently believed in. He has been accused of plagiarism 15 times. In 2006, Damien Hirst is quoted as saying "Lucky for me, when I went to art school we were a generation where we didn't have any shame about stealing other people's ideas. You call it a tribute".
There are several cases of accusations of copying ideas, and even litigation at one point. These are just a few:
In 2003, Damien Hirst created a Dove painting titled “Spirit” (right), which is almost identical to a Christmas card from the 80’s.
Damien Hirst’s spot paintings were an idea originated by American painter Thomas Downing in the 1960’s, and a Swiss artist (John Armleder) created them in the 70’s.
Many of the ideas and references for his work came from the “Carolina Biological Supply Company Science catalogue”, such as butterflies and bisected cows.
Damien Hirst isn’t the first one to come up with the idea of exhibiting dead sharks. An artist named Eddie Saunders had one on display two years before Damien Hirst – “A Dead Shark Isn't Art” – (left)
Damien Hirst created his dead shark preserved in formaldehyde The Physical Impossibility of Death in the Mind of Someone Living, in 1991, which was eventually sold by Charles Saatchi for a reported 8 million dollars.
Some ask, why was Hirst’s piece recognized as art while Saunders shark wasn’t?
See many more claims of stealing ideas and plagarism here.
Do you think these claims are warranted? Should it still be considered art - even if parts are plagiarized?
His Art is Morbid?Some are appalled and disgusted by his morbid sculptures of half decomposing animal corpses and other controversial pieces. In “Mother and Child Divided” he exhibited a cow and calf cut in half inside a tank filled with formaldehyde solution.
They ask, does art have to be ugly and disturbing to be popular?
His art seems to be inciting controversy just to grab attention.
This is the issue for many:
Why do so many artists with more talent and technical skill – who paint more appealing things - receive so little attention, while Damien Hirst’s artworks (mostly created from the help of others) sell for top dollar?
Have you taken a look at the top selling artworks for 2011? Does any of these look pretty to you? Would you hang them in your living-room? Well, maybe you would because of the name – but not because its attractive. Art does not always have to be pretty, but it does make us think.
He doesn’t create everything himself?He has over 100 studio assistants employed to do most of the work on his paintings and sculptural pieces. In some cases, such as his spin paintings, paintings are created entirely by assistants.
Even though he was criticised for this, other artists, such as Jeff Koons, Andy Warhol, and Thomas Kinkade have done the same.
The Tate Gallery in London, England recently held a retrospective of
Hirst’s art, from April 4 – Sept. 9, 2012.
What do YOU think of Damien Hirst and his controversial art?