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Damien Hirst Admits ‘All My Ideas Are Stolen Anyway’

The artist claims that he was taught ‘don’t borrow ideas, steal them’ by Michael Craig-Martin at Goldsmiths

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Damien Hirst, 2012. Courtesy: Andrew Russeth; Wikimedia Commons

Damien Hirst, 2012. Courtesy: Andrew Russeth; Wikimedia Commons

The secret’s out. In a new filmed conversation with artist Sir Peter Blake, Damien Hirst has admitted: ‘all my ideas are stolen anyway’. Hirst also said that the idea behind his spot paintings may have come from the American abstract painter Larry Poons.

The artist claims that while studying art at Goldsmiths, he was taught ‘Don’t borrow ideas, steal them’ by Michael Craig-Martin, who perhaps had in mind the quote ‘good artists copy; great artists steal’, commonly attributed to Pablo Picasso. ‘That was when you realize you don’t have to be original’ Hirst said. ‘Nothing is original – it’s what you do with it’, Blake adds.

Several pieces by Hirst, who won the Turner Prize in 1995, are alleged to have borrowed ideas from work by other artists, though Hirst has always denied plagiarism.

The most recent case concerns his ‘Veil Paintings’ which several Australian art professionals say are deeply influenced by the work of female Aboriginal artists, including the late Emily Kame Kngwarreye. Hirst says that the paintings draw on the work of Pierre Bonnard and George Seurat instead.

Hirst’s exhibition ‘Treasures from the Wreck of the Unbelievable’ at the Palazzo Grassi, Venice, last year, also came under fire by critics saying that certain pieces were guilty of cultural appropriation. In particular, his artwork Golden heads (Female) (2016) was said to appropriate a bronzehead from 14th-century Ife, an ancient city in what is now Nigeria.

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