Inspired or Lifted: Artists Copying Artists

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Left is John LeKay’s Spiritus calidus, 1993. On the right is Hirst’s For the Love of God, 2007.

Hirst himself seems to take the multiple-offender top prize. In 1989 Hirst displayed medicine cabinets as art, which eventually evolved into a room-sized piece called Pharmacy in 1992. As Charles Thompson’s piece in the latest issue of Jackdaw magazine points out, “Joseph Cornell displayed a cabinet of bottles on shelves called Pharmacy in the 1943.” Spited artist John LeKay has a page of his web site dedicated to side-by-side comparisons of his work with Hirst’s.

Hirst has even taken action against others for copying his work, in one case a 16-year-old artist who used images of Hirst’s For The Love of God (above right) in a collage. Thompson concludes, “Hirst is a plagiarist in a way that would be totally unacceptable in science or literature.”


Left is John Lekay’s This is my Body, This is my Blood, 1987. Right is Damien Hirst’s Name of the Father, 2006.


Left is LeKay’s Untitled for Death and Dying. Right is Hirst’s Hymn, 2004.