Rolf Harris on Emin: 'I think it's a con'

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The Independent Online

For a man who has bravely faced the public armed only with a wobble board and a didgeridoo, an enfant terrible of British art poses no fear for Rolf Harris.

Tracey Emin may have expected the usual reaction from the art world after dismissing the work of Matisse, Picasso and Van Gogh this week but she also got an unexpectedly scathing broadside yesterday from the children's entertainer. Emin also said in yesterday's edition of The Independent that she sometimes felt her work was "totally insignificant and meaningless". She appeared to have the wholehearted support of Harris, who railed against modern artists he claimed were conning the public with their controversial installations.

He said pieces such as Emin's My Bed were putting the public off visiting galleries because they failed to understand the exhibits.

Harris, 71, who encouraged millions of children to draw and paint with his long-running television shows, said: "I've always imagined that something to do with art should have something to do with something artistic – and somebody who's studied and learnt how to be extra special with whatever medium they're doing. I don't see how getting out of bed and leaving the bed unmade and putting it on show and saying that's worth, I don't know £31,000 ... I don't believe it, I think it's a con."

Harris is to launch a new series on BBC1, Rolf on Art, in which he looks at the work of the 19th-century Impressionists and will be trying to recreate scenes painted by Monet, Van Gogh, Degas and Gaugin.