I saw this article this morning in the Artist’s Magazine blog about Damien Hirst’s infamous diamond studded skull. Personally, I find most of Damien Hirst’s work of dubious merit and this piece in particular to be rather hideous. However there are two very interesting articles linked here. The first is an article describing the fabrication process of skull. What transpires is that Hirst didn’t really physically create the piece himself, rather he designed the piece and the actual work was carried out by London jewelers Bentley and Skinner.
The question that arises is when does art have to be created by the artist himself in order for it to be his work and when can the work be done by another craftsman under his direction?
In this case Hirst didn’t have the necessary skills to create the piece so he got a jeweler to do it. In another, maybe a sculptor will get a skilled metalworker to operate heavy machinery for him to cut, bend and weld large pieces of steel. These seem somehow legitimate because the art is in the design, not the craftsmanship.
However what of another artist who produces a sketch and gets a craftsman to create a painting on his behalf? This doesn’t sound legitimate. The question is why. Why is this different and where is the border between the legitimate and the illegitimate? Is there a some essential difference between different art media?