David Hockney vs Damien Hirst: the Queen's chosen one puts king of the YBAs on the spot

A day after his New Year honour, Yorkshire's finest attacks artist for failing to make his own work

A row is threatening to break out between two of Britain's most celebrated artists after David Hockney criticised Damien Hirst for the "insulting" use of assistants to create his works.

Hockney, whose new exhibition opens later this month, has taken a swing at his fellow artists, saying they should create their own work.

Posters for his show at the Royal Academy of Arts in London read: "All the works here were made by the artist himself, personally." He confirmed that it was particularly a dig at Damien Hirst, who famously used assistants on his spot paintings. Hockney, who was awarded the Order of Merit on Sunday, told the Radio Times: "It's a little insulting to craftsmen, skilful craftsmen."

Hirst has an exhibition of his spot paintings at the Gagosian Gallery's 11 sites around the world starting next week. Talking about the works in 2007 he said: "As soon as I sold one, I used the money to pay people to make them. They were better at it than me. I get bored. I get very impatient." He was unavailable for comment yesterday.

Other contemporary British artists who have used assistants include the sculptor Antony Gormley and Mark Wallinger. Hockney said: "I used to point out at art school, you can teach the craft; it's the poetry you can't teach. But now they try to teach the poetry and not the craft." He quoted a Chinese saying that to paint "you need the eye, the hand and the heart. Two won't do".

Michael Petry, a multimedia artist who wrote The Art of Not Making, about artists who outsource the production of their work, said: "It is one thing to say, 'That's not the way I work', which is fine, but we don't need to throw stones at each other." He added: "To say this sort of thing is to erase a whole century of contemporary art."

He pointed out that apprentices had been used by artists for hundreds of years, including Fra Angelico in the 15th century, Michelangelo, Peter Paul Rubens and Sir Joshua Reynolds. "I find it difficult to see it as a credible argument," Mr Petry said. "A lot of great work has used assistants."

Hockney has been working on pieces for his new show in London for three years. He said: "It took me three days to say, 'Yes, okay'. There was quite a lot of work, but I'm an opportunist... We rose to the occasion."

Masters and servants

Michelangelo

The great Italian masters of the Renaissance studied at workshops of previous masters and many had apprentices of their own. The myth that Michelangelo painted the Sistine Chapel by himself has endured but recent scholarship found he recruited 12 assistants to take part in completing the work.

Marcel Duchamp

Marcel Duchamp scandalised the art world in 1917 with Fountain. The urinal was part of his "Readymades" where found objects were presented as art. An editorial in art journal The Blind Man said at the time it did not matter whether the artist made it with his own hands, "he CHOSE it".

Andy Warhol

Michael Petry said Andy Warhol "could draw beautifully but he is most famous for his print works, which were done with the help of assistants". The artist started using assistants as an advertisement illustrator in the 1950s and carried on the practice throughout his career.

Antony Gormley

Part of a long tradition of sculptors using assistants. Some 500 helped Gormley with the Asian Field work.

Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Arts and Entertainment

ebooksNow available in paperback
Arts and Entertainment

ebooks
Arts and Entertainment
Israeli-born actress Gal Gadot has been cast to play Wonder Woman
film
News
Top Gear presenter James May appears to be struggling with his new-found free time
people
Arts and Entertainment
Kendrick Lamar at the Made in America Festival in Los Angeles last summer
music
Arts and Entertainment
'Marley & Me' with Jennifer Aniston and Owen Wilson
film
Arts and Entertainment
Jon Hamm (right) and John Slattery in the final series of Mad Men
tv
Arts and Entertainment
theatre
Arts and Entertainment
Place Blanche, Paris, 1961, shot by Christer Strömholm
photographyHow the famous camera transformed photography for ever
Arts and Entertainment
The ‘Westmacott Athlete’
art
Arts and Entertainment
‘The Royals’ – a ‘twisted, soapy take on England’s first family’
tv Some of the characters appear to have clear real-life counterparts
News
Brooks is among a dozen show-business professionals ever to have achieved Egot status
people
Arts and Entertainment
A cut above: Sean Penn is outclassed by Mark Rylance in The Gunman
film review
Arts and Entertainment
arts + ents
Arts and Entertainment
James Franco and Zachary Quinto in I Am Michael

Film review Michael Glatze biopic isn't about a self-hating gay man gone straight

Arts and Entertainment
A scene from the movie 'Get Hard'
tvWill Ferrell’s new film Get Hard receives its first reviews
Arts and Entertainment
Left to right: David Cameron (Mark Dexter), Nick Clegg (Bertie Carvel) and Gordon Brown (Ian Grieve)
tvReview: Ian Grieve gets another chance to play Gordon Brown... this is the kinder version
Arts and Entertainment
Benedict Cumberbatch and Martin Freeman in the first look picture from next year's Sherlock special

TV
Arts and Entertainment
Because it wouldn’t be Glastonbury without people kicking off about the headline acts, a petition has already been launched to stop Kanye West performing on the Saturday night

music
Arts and Entertainment
Molly Risker, Helen Monks, Caden-Ellis Wall, Rebekah Staton, Erin Freeman, Philip Jackson and Alexa Davies in ‘Raised by Wolves’

TV review
Arts and Entertainment

TV
Arts and Entertainment
James May, Jeremy Clarkson and Richard Hammond in the Top Gear Patagonia Special

TV
  • Get to the point
Latest stories from i100
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?

ES Rentals

    Independent Dating
    and  

    By clicking 'Search' you
    are agreeing to our
    Terms of Use.

    No postcode? No vote

    Floating voters

    How living on a houseboat meant I didn't officially 'exist'
    Louis Theroux's affable Englishman routine begins to wear thin

    By Reason of Insanity

    Louis Theroux's affable Englishman routine begins to wear thin
    Power dressing is back – but no shoulderpads!

    Power dressing is back

    But banish all thoughts of Eighties shoulderpads
    Spanish stone-age cave paintings 'under threat' after being re-opened to the public

    Spanish stone-age cave paintings in Altamira 'under threat'

    Caves were re-opened to the public
    'I was the bookies’ favourite to be first to leave the Cabinet'

    Vince Cable interview

    'I was the bookies’ favourite to be first to leave the Cabinet'
    Election 2015: How many of the Government's coalition agreement promises have been kept?

    Promises, promises

    But how many coalition agreement pledges have been kept?
    The Gaza fisherman who built his own reef - and was shot dead there by an Israeli gunboat

    The death of a Gaza fisherman

    He built his own reef, and was fatally shot there by an Israeli gunboat
    Saudi Arabia's airstrikes in Yemen are fuelling the Gulf's fire

    Saudi airstrikes are fuelling the Gulf's fire

    Arab intervention in Yemen risks entrenching Sunni-Shia divide and handing a victory to Isis, says Patrick Cockburn
    Zayn Malik's departure from One Direction shows the perils of fame in the age of social media

    The only direction Zayn could go

    We wince at the anguish of One Direction's fans, but Malik's departure shows the perils of fame in the age of social media
    Young Magician of the Year 2015: Meet the schoolgirl from Newcastle who has her heart set on being the competition's first female winner

    Spells like teen spirit

    A 16-year-old from Newcastle has set her heart on being the first female to win Young Magician of the Year. Jonathan Owen meets her
    Jonathan Anderson: If fashion is a cycle, this young man knows just how to ride it

    If fashion is a cycle, this young man knows just how to ride it

    British designer Jonathan Anderson is putting his stamp on venerable house Loewe
    Number plates scheme could provide a licence to offend in the land of the free

    Licence to offend in the land of the free

    Cash-strapped states have hit on a way of making money out of drivers that may be in collision with the First Amendment, says Rupert Cornwell
    From farm to fork: Meet the Cornish fishermen, vegetable-growers and butchers causing a stir in London's top restaurants

    From farm to fork in Cornwall

    One man is bringing together Cornwall's most accomplished growers, fishermen and butchers with London's best chefs to put the finest, freshest produce on the plates of some of the country’s best restaurants
    Robert Parker interview: The world's top wine critic on tasting 10,000 bottles a year, absurd drinking notes and New World wannabes

    Robert Parker interview

    The world's top wine critic on tasting 10,000 bottles a year, absurd drinking notes and New World wannabes
    Don't believe the stereotype - or should you?

    Don't believe the stereotype - or should you?

    We exaggerate regional traits and turn them into jokes - and those on the receiving end are in on it too, says DJ Taylor