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Artists Who Don’t “Make” Their Own Work

Allegedly David Hockney recently took a dig at Damien Hirst when a poster for his upcoming show at the Royal Academy of Art read, “All the works here were made by the artist himself, personally.” The Royal Academy of Art has since clarified that the phrase appeared on Hockney’s gallery wall, not their poster, and Mr. Hockney was not attacking anyone specifically.

This got us thinking. It’s not uncommon for artists to have assistants or employ experienced craftsmen to help with the production of their work. Sometimes, that’s the only way to bring their ideas to life. Sometimes, that process is part of the art’s conceit. Sometimes, they just want the money without doing much of anything. Here’s a brief and wide survey of classical and contemporary artists who conceive, but don’t or didn’t always “make” their own work. This is not exactly “in defense” of Damien Hirst. It’s a bit that, but more of … “in contrast,” just some thoughts to levy the hype and hate currently swirling around the artist. Let’s get to it!

Christo and Jeanne-Claude

“All of Christo and Jeanne-Claude’s projects come from ideas from their two hearts, and two brains,” the artist duo have strongly asserted. “The artists never create works that come from other people’s ideas. Never.” The two did not accept proposals, commissions, licensing deals, or grants, and they paid for installation out of their own pocket, as to not “alter and compromise their art” and work in “total freedom.” Now then, you don’t expect them to have wrap Parisian bridges and the Australian coast by their lonesome or run around planting thousands of giant umbrellas by themselves? Naturally, they employed workers for that. What do you think they were doing, painting dots?