Nigerians Outraged as British Artist, Damien Hirst, Copies Ife Sculpture Without Giving Credit

British artist, entrepreneur and art collector, Damien Hirst, has incurred the wrath of Nigerians for copying the bust of a well-known Ife terracotta head sculpted by artists from Ile-Ife in present day Osun State between the 12th and 14th century, without giving attribution to the original work.

Hirst’s work titled, “Golden Heads (Female)”, was displayed at his Venice show “Treasures from the Wreck of the Unbelievable” at Palazzo Grassi is an exact replica of Ife sculpture, with no reference to Ife or Nigeria.

Victor Ehikhamenor, one of the artists representing Nigeria in Venice Biennial and presenting the Biography of the Forgotten, a large-scale work fusing abstract shapes with traditional sculpture, informed by an investment in classical Benin art and the effect of colonialism on cultural heritage, made this known on his Instagram page on Tuesday.


Ehikhamenor also posted a photo of the Hirst’s postcard of Golden heads, saying: “This postcard of ‘Golden heads (Female)’ by Damien Hirst with no reference to Ife and great artists that originally made these timeless classic will travel far and wide. Once again the hunter has glorified his tale in the absence of the lion.”

According to online news site, Hirst’s Treasures from the Wreck of the Unbelievable exhibition, a result of extensive work carried out by the artist in the last decade, has done nothing but invoke anger among Nigerians, who upon seeing Ehikhaemenor’s post on the internet didn’t take the news too well and have vented their anger as seen in their various comments on Instagram.

Some Nigerians went on to blame the government for this kind of calamity. Others played their part by spreading the news far and wide across the country and also tagging media houses. Others considered it disheartening and unfair, adding that what Hirst has done would not have been condoned if a Nigerian had copied another artist’s work and tried to display and eventually sell it off as an original.

Trust Nigerians to take to social media to vent their displeasure.

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