Look back in anger: Hirst turns on critics on eve of his retrospective

view gallery VIEW GALLERY

Enfant terrible of Brit Art insists 'Hang on to your Hirsts' as row escalates over claim his work is worthless

On the eve of his blockbuster London show, Damien Hirst has hit back at the critic who deemed his work "worthless" and urged collectors not to sell up, adding in unashamedly capitalist terms that art is the "greatest currency in the world". Hirst, whose wealth has been estimated at more than £200m, said he was pleased to have "made lots of money", adding: "I'm not afraid of that."

The largest retrospective of Hirst's work in Britain opens tomorrow at the Tate Modern and includes some of his most famous – and notorious – pieces from the shark in formaldehyde and a range of spot paintings to the £50m skull covered in diamonds.

While the Tate dubbed him "one of the most significant artists of our time," his output came under attack last week from curator and writer Julian Spalding who called Hirst's creations "worthless as works of art". Spalding also urged collectors to sell any pieces they owned before their value collapsed.

Hirst hit back at his critics yesterday, saying Spalding's comments in particular were "more about selling his book than anything else," adding that his works could gain in value. "They say: 'Sell your Hirsts.' I say: 'Don't sell your Hirsts. Hang on to them'. They're not that high," the artist said.

He added: "I think art is the greatest currency in the world. Gold, diamonds, art are equal things and I think it's a great thing to invest in. I love art and you can put it on your wall and enjoy it as well."

The 46-year old, one of the most prominent of the so-called Young British Artists since his emergence in the late 1980s, further dismissed sceptics saying that some of the 20th-century's most celebrated artists, including Picasso, had also fallen foul of the critics. "Andy Warhol said that great thing: 'Don't read your reviews, weigh them," Hirst said.

The London show, which runs until 9 September, is a "mid-career retrospective," according to Hirst. It covers a period of over two decades, from his work at Goldsmiths to the auction at Sotheby's in 2008.

As well as the pickled shark, which is called The Physical Impossibility of Death in the Mind of Someone Living, created in 1991, the show has Mother and Child Divided, the cow and calf split in half and preserved in formaldehyde unveiled 16 years later.

Other works include A Thousand Years, which has the lifecycle of flies in a cage with a rotting cow's head, and In and Out of Love (White Paintings and Live Butterflies) where butterflies flit around the viewers. Other celebrated works include the spin paintings, the largest of the 1,400 spot paintings and the Pharmacy installation.

Despite Spalding's comments, the appetite for Hirst's works continues to hold, especially the spot paintings. He said they "keep looking great" and that's why people continue to buy them.

If the work was left in a skip, he said, someone would take it home: "That's the definition of a good painting and that's why it sells for lots of money," adding: "There are a lot of people in the world and not a lot of spot paintings."

The artist said: "I'm one of those lucky artists that have made money in their lifetime, and make lots of money. I'm not afraid of that. The goal has always been to make art. Making money is a very happy by-product."

Unsurprisingly, few opportunities are missed to sell merchandise at the show. As well as Hirst deckchairs, skateboards, umbrellas, jewellery and wallpaper, the gift shop offers a limited edition plastic skull for £36,800.

The maestro of the macabre

adrian hamilton, page 44

Suggested Topics
Arts & Entertainment
film

Arts & Entertainment
Don (John Hamm) and Megan (Jessica Paré) Draper are going their separate ways in the final series of ‘Mad Men’
tvReview: The suits are still sharp, but Don Draper has lost his edge
Arts & Entertainment
James Franco and Chris O'Dowd in Of Mice and Men on Broadway
theatre

Review: Of Mice and Men

Arts & Entertainment
art

By opportunistic local hoping to exhibit the work

VIDEO
Arts & Entertainment
Leonardo DiCaprio will star in an adaptation of Michael Punke's thriller 'The Revenant'
film

Fans will be hoping the role finally wins him an Oscar

Arts & Entertainment
Cody and Paul Walker pictured in 2003.
film

Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition iPad app?
Arts & Entertainment
Down to earth: Fern Britton presents 'The Big Allotment Challenge'
TV

Arts & Entertainment
The London Mozart Players is the longest-running chamber orchestra in the UK
musicThreatened orchestra plays on, managed by its own members
Arts & Entertainment
Seeing red: James Dean with Sal Mineo in 'Rebel without a Cause'
film

Arts & Entertainment
TV
Arts & Entertainment
Heads up: Andy Scott's The Kelpies in Falkirk
art

What do gigantic horse heads tell us about Falkirk?

Arts & Entertainment
artGraffiti legend posts picture of work – but no one knows where it is
Arts & Entertainment
A close-up of Tom of Finland's new Finnish stamp
art

Finnish Postal Service praises the 'self irony and humour' of the drawings

Arts & Entertainment
Pierce Brosnan as James Bond in 2002's Die Another Day
film

The actor has confessed to his own insecurities

Life & Style
Green fingers: a plot in East London
TV

Allotments are the focus of a new reality show

Arts & Entertainment
Myleene Klass attends the Olivier awards 2014

Oliviers 2014Theatre stars arrive at Britain's most prestigious theatre awards
Arts & Entertainment
Stars of The Book of Mormon by Trey Parker and Matt Stone of South Park

Oliviers 2014Blockbuster picked up Best Musical and Best Actor in a Musical
Arts & Entertainment
Lesley Manville with her Olivier for Best Actress for her role in 'Ghosts'

Oliviers 2014Actress thanked director Richard Eyre for a stunning production
Arts & Entertainment
Rory Kinnear in his Olivier-winning role as Iago in Othello

Oliviers 2014Actor beat Jude Law and Tom Hiddleston to take the award
Arts & Entertainment
Benedict Cumberbatch is best known for this roles in Sherlock and Star Trek
TV

Arts & Entertainment
theatreAll hail the temporary venue that has shaken things up at the National Theatre
Arts & Entertainment
musicShe is candid, comic and coming our way
Arts & Entertainment
booksHer new novel is about people seeking where they belong
Independent
Travel Shop
the manor
Up to 70% off luxury travel
on city breaks Find out more
santorini
Up to 70% off luxury travel
on chic beach resorts Find out more
sardina foodie
Up to 70% off luxury travel
on country retreats Find out more
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition iPad app?

ES Rentals

    Independent Dating
    and  

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

    Ricky Gervais: 'People are waiting for me to fail. If you think it's awful, then just don't watch it'

    Ricky Gervais: 'People are waiting for me to fail'

    As the second series of his divisive sitcom 'Derek' hits screens, the comedian tells James Rampton why he'll never bow to the critics who habitually circle his work
    Mad Men series 7, TV review: The suits are still sharp, but Don Draper has lost his edge

    Mad Men returns for a final fling

    The suits are still sharp, but Don Draper has lost his edge
    Google finds a lift into space will never get off the ground as there is no material strong enough for a cable from Earth into orbit

    Google finds a lift into space will never get off the ground

    Technology giant’s scientists say there is no material strong enough for a cable from Earth into orbit
    Westminster is awash with tales of young men being sexually harassed - but it's far from being just a problem in politics

    Is sexual harassment a fact of gay life?

    Westminster is awash with tales of young men being sexually harassed - but it's far from being just a problem in politics
    Moshi Monster creator Michael Acton Smith: The man behind a British success story

    Moshi Monster creator Michael Acton Smith

    Acton Smith launched a world of virtual creatures who took the real world by storm
    Kim Jong-un's haircut: The Independent heads to Ealing to try out the dictator's do

    Our journalist tries out Kim Jong-un's haircut

    The North Korean embassy in London complained when M&M Hair Academy used Kim Jong-un's image in the window. Curious, Guy Pewsey heads to the hair salon and surrenders to the clippers
    A History of the First World War in 100 moments: A forgotten naval victory in which even Nature played a part

    A History of the First World War in 100 moments

    A forgotten naval victory in which even Nature played a part
    Vespa rides on with launch of Primavera: Iconic Italian scooter still revving up millions of sales

    Vespa rides on with launch of the Primavera

    The Vespa has been a style icon since the 1950s and the release this month of its latest model confirms it has lost little of its lustre
    Record Store Day: Independent music shops can offer a tempting alternative to downloads

    Record Store Day celebrates independent music shops

    This Saturday sees a host of events around the country to champion the sellers of well-grooved wax
    Taunton's policy of putting philosophy at heart of its curriculum is one of secrets of its success

    Education: Secret of Taunton's success

    Taunton School, in Somerset, is one of the country's leading independent schools, says Richard Garner
    10 best smartphones

    10 best smartphones

    With a number of new smartphones on the market, we round up the best around, including some more established models
    Mickey Arthur: Aussie tells ECB to stick with Ashley Giles

    Mickey Arthur: Aussie tells ECB to stick with Ashley Giles

    The former Australia coach on why England must keep to Plan A, about his shock at their collapse Down Under, why he sent players home from India and the agonies of losing his job
    Homelessness: Why is the supported lodgings lifeline under threat?

    Why is the supported lodgings lifeline under threat?

    Zubairi Sentongo swapped poverty in Uganda for homelessness in Britain. But a YMCA scheme connected him with a couple offering warmth and shelter
    A History of the First World War in 100 Moments: When the world’s biggest shed took over Regent’s Park

    A History of the First World War in 100 Moments

    When the world’s biggest shed took over Regent’s Park
    The pain of IVF

    The pain of IVF

    As an Italian woman vows to keep the babies from someone else’s eggs, Julian Baggini ponders how the reality of childbirth is often messier than the natural ideal