Tracey and Damien? They're second-rate, says Sarah Lucas

Celebrated artist reveals what she really thinks of her friends and fellow YBAs

Click to follow
The Independent Culture

One of the most celebrated of the Young British Artists has launched a broadside at several peers, criticising Tracey Emin's art as "second-rate" and adding that she is not a fan of Damien Hirst's work either.

Sarah Lucas, who has been described as the "most rock'n'roll of the YBAs", slammed Emin's use of her personal experience in works.

"It's a bit second-rate, really, to exploit all that personal stuff", the 49-year old told The Independent. When asked if she was saying that Emin's work was second-rate, she replied: "Yes, I suppose I am."

Lucas has a "tempestuous" friendship with Emin. They met at her first show and even ran a shop together for six months. "Tracey likes a lot of drama, which I don't really," she said. "So it was a bit of a mismatch."

The artist, whose work includes a self-portrait with fried eggs, was two years ahead of Hirst at Goldsmiths College. She said: "I don't much like his work either."

Lucas rejected the fame that came with the YBAs following the "Sensation" show at the Royal Academy in 1997.

"That's something I did decide to avoid by being in Suffolk and just opting out of it," Lucas said.

"I was never that comfortable with the celebrity side of it."

At Goldsmiths she was three years ahead of Sam Taylor-Wood and Gillian Wearing, while Gary Hume and Michael Landy were in the year below.

After advertising executive Charles Saatchi started buying the YBAs' art work the market changed, Lucas said. "Damien would say he had no plan. But he always seemed to me to somehow have an instinct for that side of it. Not just the business, but... seeing how these things work. I don't think I did." The artist admitted she felt guilty about her success, before adding: "I'm trying to dispense with it a bit, because it doesn't help."

Lucas was not "one of these people who wanted to be an artist", she said. After leaving school at 16, she hitchhiked around Europe before someone suggested taking an evening art class. She went on to do a foundation course at the London College of Printing before the degree in fine art at Goldsmiths. As well as retreating from the limelight to Suffolk, Lucas no longer reads newspapers or magazines.

"I'm so out of touch with it now that I really don't know what's going on," Lucas said.

"Maybe I'm just avoiding something for the sake of it and having a trivial life."