The art world bows down to David Hockney


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David Hockney is the most influential British artist of all time, according to a poll of 1,000 British painters and sculptors. Neither Damien Hirst nor Tracey Emin made the Top Ten in a survey that is both revealing and damning for the so-called Young British Artists (YBAs).

Turner Prize winners and nominees have been eclipsed by Turner himself, who was voted into second place. The YBAs are constantly showered with accolades by curators, collectors and critics, supported by an art market PR machine that ensures they are rarely out of the limelight. Yet, as this poll suggests, they fail to inspire other artists – one of the tests of great talent.

Instead, contemporary artists look for inspiration in 20th-century masters such as Francis Bacon, Lucian Freud and Stanley Spencer, as well as 18th-century master Gainsborough.

Of contemporary artists, Grayson Perry, the eccentric potter, Sir Peter Blake, the pop artist, and Banksy, the graffiti artist, have been singled out by their peers as major influences, but those conspicuous by their absence from the Top Ten, apart from Hirst and Emin, include Jake and Dinos Chapman, best-known for defacing Goya prints, Mark Wallinger, who videoed himself dressed as a bear, and Marc Quinn, who made a head out of his own blood.

Nor are Antony Gormley, who made the giant Angel of the North, or Anish Kapoor, whose spiralling tower marks the London Olympics, towering figures for today's sculptors.

Rubbing salt into the wound of excluded artists is the inclusion of Jack Vettriano, the self-taught painter of The Singing Butler who has long been spurned by the art establishment, dismissed as the Jeffrey Archer of the art world, perhaps because his art sells so well on greeting-cards and posters.

The poll was commissioned by The Other Art Fair, a new fair in London that will allow the public to buy directly from artists instead of through individual dealers.

A thousand artists, between the ages of 20 and 65, applied to participate and took part in the survey. They included recent art school graduates and established artists. A hundred artists were chosen to exhibit at the fair, which runs at The Bargehouse on London's South Bank, from Friday until Sunday [25-27 November].