Hockney takes a swipe at Hirst over work ethic

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British painter David Hockney has criticised controversial fellow artist Damien Hirst for employing other people to help create his works of art, saying it was "insulting".

A poster for a major exhibition of landscapes by the 74-year-old Hockney opening in London this month reads: "All the works here were made by the artist himself, personally."

Asked in a magazine interview whether he was having a dig at Hirst, who uses assistants for his prolific output, which includes a life-sized platinum cast of an 18th-century skull encrusted with 8,601 diamonds, Hockney nodded.

"It's a little insulting to craftsmen, skilful craftsmen," he told the Radio Times.

He added: "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."

Hockney quoted a traditional Chinese saying, that to paint "you need the eye, the hand and the heart. Two won't do".

"The other great thing they said -- I told this to (late painter) Lucian Freud -- is, 'painting is an old man's art'. I like that!," Hockney said.

A major exhibition of Hockney's paintings inspired by his native Yorkshire, entitled "David Hockney: A Bigger Picture", goes on display at the Royal Academy of Arts in London on January 21.

It is the result of three years of work and Hockney admitted it had been hard work, saying: "It took me three days to say, 'Yes, OK...' There was quite a lot of work, but I'm an opportunist... We rose to the occasion."

The artist was appointed to the Order of Merit, a special honour granted by Queen Elizabeth II for achievement in the arts, learning, literature or science, on Sunday. He turned down a knighthood in 1990.

Hirst was a leading member of the 1990s 'Young British Artists' movement alongside Tracey Emin, and won fame with works featuring animals suspended in formaldehyde in glass cases, including a shark and a cow.

© 2012 AFP

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