Hockney attacks Hirst for 'insulting' use of assistants


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The Independent Online

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

Posters for the show, at the Royal Academy of Arts in London, read: "All the works here were made by the artist himself, personally."

Hockney, who was awarded the Order of Merit on Sunday, has confirmed that the posters are particularly aimed at Hirst, who famously used assistants on his series of Spot paintings. He told the Radio Times: "It's a little insulting to craftsmen, skilful craftsmen."

Hirst, whose Spot paintings will be on show at all 11 Gagosian Gallery sites from 12 January to 17 March, said of the works in 2007: "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 also used assistants include 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 multi-media artist who wrote The Art of Not Making, about artists who outsource the making 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."