Hockney vs Hirst

A row has broken out between David Hockney and Damian Hirst with regards to the use of assistants to create Hirst's works of art.

In two minds over this as assistants have been used since the start of time (probably). Even Michelangelo used them and Antony Gormley and Marcel Duchamp and Warhol. They were, and are, producing works of art to earn a living. Michelangelo had a whole studio of assistant painters when he became a star. One would be good at clothes, another at fruit and another at glass though he did the original drawing and finishing, we think. You can have an idea but lack the required technical skills to produce the finished artwork.

On the other hand, if you, as the artist, don't actually produce the finished piece can you really call it your own?

Rather long link-



(this photo may be copyright-if it is I will remove it upon request)

Often the real artists are those who survive throughout the ages. Those whom we love, admire, those whom we are comfortable with and those whose work we would love to have hanging on our walls. Personally I believe Hockney is a genuinely talented artist whose work will survive and please many for a long time to come. I can't say the same for Hirst or Emin. Maybe I am biased as I love Hockeny's work.

I have just read the book The Man in the Blue Scarf' which relates the conversations between L Freud and his model ( a jounalist, sorry have lent the book and forgotten the name!) over a period of more than a year's sittings.

Anyone interested in Freud's work, his life and fellow artists, will find this a wonderful read I am sure.

The endless question...'what is a work of art?' I have huge fproblems with animals bodies preserved in tanks and have never felt moved or interested by the 'installation' type work of Hirst. However I have been bowled over with the video of Hockney working, his book about the Yorkshire work and in the end my visit to the exhibition. His generous sharing of his work and techniques and his ideas of the place and value of art have in many ways changed and in some ways confirmed my thoughts about what I do every day. What a wonderful man he is.

Unfortunately I will not be able to get back to London to see either exhibition. Amazing what can be done with a piant brush and some tubes of chemicals and a bit of cloth.

I separate the art which I like just because I happen to like the subject, the way it's painted, the colours, the way it makes feel, etc. Then there is the professional, serious business art which is about money really and creating a market for it so that Emmin, Hirst, et al and the city gallery owners and collectors and auction houses can make loads of money. Most of this type of work needs a piece of paper along side to explain what the artist means, its social context, ya, ya, rubbish.

I started this discussion because Hockney advertised his exhibition as all the works were done by his own hand and not by others. Hirst gives the impression that he produces all his work by his own fair hand and then it turns out that he produces very little and lot of his ideas are secondhand as well. My question was-is Hockney's view valid?

"I didnt use 'shocking' as in - lonely-housewives-poetry-&-macrame-circle response to dirty sheets and pickled animals", So this is becoming a debate about whether one is worthy to make comments about "art". I don't give a proverbial toss who paints the picture or takes the photo - it's who develops the idea and works in the darkroom to produce the final product who are the artists - the others are technicians and aspiring artists working under direction, who will go on hopefully to become good artists themselves.

This of course is the opinion of a person who is not an artist just a viewer and never had the education which would have helped me understand the thoughts not always obvious in the paintings and other art I have seen. I can only therefore give my opinions based on the emotional reaction art creates or resurrects within me. I am envious of those who can understand such works or art but am therefore suspicious if the message or response is not immediate - I am one of the many thousands of people who do not understand the metaphors contained only the picture painted. My husband has never forgotten the painting of "The Beheading of Lady Jane Grey" and talks of it often he is a photographer and therefore the painting and the emotions portrayed were wonderful to him.

Having trolled around Art galleries with work and being told "we don't make the decisions regarding art - the public does and we follow trends" Yeh right so how come they book artists 18 months to 2 years in advance - do they have a crystal ball. Hirst sells because the galleries love him - not because his work is indicative of it's time 18 months in advance - it's because he is easy to pitch to the public with the money "The Emperor's New Clothes" comes to mind.

I was informed by the Arnolfini in Bristol that work must have a political purpose and make a statement - at the time they had large plastic gnomes with a map drawn around them on the floor in masking tape and a large pair of stained knickers on the wall.

The Watershed said the same - at the time they had a piece of work called "Masturbation in the suburbs" which was a series of really badly taken highly colored photographs of people in Bristol - no masturbation just record shots of people performing no particular role or purpose.

Tracey Ermine's work was sensational in its content only because of its vulgarity and she was working through her own personal problems (her words not mine) (sperm stained bedsheets). Did this work invoke any particular feelings in people other than "oh God more sensational crap" did it make a difference to how people felt about promiscuity and the results thereof - it is memorable but only in my opinion, and I do not do macrame or belong to clubs, because of its sheer turgidity.

Art seems to have turned in on itself just to portray what the "public" want. The CIA in the late 40's, early 50's decided that artists had too much power to change things and so they brought it and pumped up the price of work that people would not understand, such as abstract art and therefore separated the artists from their people - making their statements of little value. This is still happening. Galleries only sell 2% of the world's art it is said.

You wonderful people who are artists should get back to basics - it does not matter who does the work under the guiding light and inspiration of people who are gifted - what matters is the message - you have the power to change people's direction.

I would rather look at and be shocked and stunned by Grayson Perry's work any day than sell outs such as Hirst and Ermine (who is designing handbags now?) he has a message that is relevant and important to all who wish to understand humanity.

like :)

Just been reading thru the previous posts and also have just checked out art works by both artists and have to say that personally - and I think that point has come out about art and always should, that art can only be judged by yourself to yourself - that I personally prefer Hirst's art work hands down over Hockney's. Hirst uses imagination in his installations and real emotion and colour in his paintings. I find Hockney's style of painting so much more stilted and frozen, flat and lifeless. But that is just my own point of view.

However, I don't feel the need to justify that point of view to anyone or to try and change their mind over it - each to their own. That is the whole point of art and I love artists who shake up the rarefied realms of the 'official' art world and those who can manage to make a fortune, at times peddling crap (literally), to that world, all kudos to them.They make people stop and really think about what they do and don't like about art, hopefully by themselves but too often led by the media's point of view.

Dali was a great example of an artist with huge technical skills who stuck two fingers up at the establishment when criticised for wanting to make money from his art work in his lifetime and not waiting until he was dead. He was lambasted for taking on ad works for cash despite the idea turning into one of his most glorious paintings.- 'Swans reflected as Elephants' - originally designed as an ad idea for Air India.

I wish more artists would come out all guns blazing even if some of the results I consider to be trash - at times I just like the idea. God knows how it has changed art and our perception of it over the centuries. Without new ideas and mediums and artists pushing boundaries, we would all be stuck looking a flat, perspective-less religious painting of the middle ages.

Dali's private gallery of master pieces was a great example of scoffing at the idea of revering artists' work due to who they were - he had a whole gallery hung with master pieces and enjoyed taking rich people round to drool over the art work - it only came out later that they were all fakes commissioned by Dali to laugh at these people and their snobbery.

I like art that makes me stop and think, sometimes catch my breath, other times those that make me laugh at their audacity or irony, those that want me to lose myself and at times to shock me - but they all have to move me. And good art does though I know others may consider it to be crap - I consider some of what they revere as being the same load of crap - hence why there are so many different styles and ways and means of creating art as there are people and we shouldn't be corralled into lambasting or lauding work by the art world media - what is a critic but someone with a point of view, as we all have.The art establishment has a lot to answer for, deciding for the rest of us who is a good artist or not.

I don't really care who the artist is, how he lives or what he believes in just as I don't with authors - it's their work I am interested in. You sometimes find out that they were awful people, husbands, mothers, etc...but does that change the value of your reaction to their art - no, not really or you only have opinions founded on what should be correct, which is a pretty shallow reaction to ART.

...And the issue of Hockney putting down Hirst for using assistants is laughable - history shows that this has always been used as a means to an end. I actually think less of Hockney as a man for using this as an axe to grind.

Art, at times, is just an idea - just as great architects don't actually draw up the plans required to build a building much less actually get their hands dirty on the building site but does that make their concept any less outstanding - they know exactly how to get their idea out by using the best possible assistants.

Love this photo!!! I wanna grow up to be like David Hockney :-D

Sorry Jeanette, have been goading you a bit on this one as I think there is a bit too much intellecualisation (is this a word?) about all forms of art, especially paintings, telling me what I should like and how I should see it. Trouble is I am just a Secondray School educated lad brought up in the mean streets of Dagenham, (east London).

This is getting a bit too intellectual for me! I know what I like!

My response to what I am told and see as art is a personal and emotional reaction. You seem to view it with no response at all, your view won't be changed by any further information you aquire after your first reponse. Fine. I like having an emotional repsose to everything in my life including what I see as art and my response will change as I get more information (if there is any to be had) and as I get older. I am encompassing all forms of art in this, not just painting and sculpture.

As we age our perceptions change surely. I think I have been duped when Hirst presents his art as all his own work and then you find out that it isn't at a later date. As you say, the actual object still stands as previously just my perception of what it means changes. Art I liked in the 60's I may not like now. The use of elephant dung in Olifi's work adds nothing to the artworks, just get's him a lot of publicity-clever man-and of course adds value to the people who buy his work - "yes, that's one of Olifi's, made out of elephant crap, don't you know". If you know something of the artists intention it can add to our enjoyment of the works'.

I agree. And surely this has been the case throughout time?

So you can divorce your perception of a piece of work if you later find out the idea was copied from someone else and that the artist who said he produced the work by his own hand then admits that someone else produced it? What value do you put on the artists involvement with the piece? I think that devalues the whole piece. If you don't find this out you can obviously simply continue to enjoy it in ignorance. There is an artist whose paintings are produced from elephant poo. As artworks they were not to my taste but he gained publicity because of what they were created from. The medium was all. The most chilling artwork for me was the Myra Hindley portrait (based on her police photograph) by Marcus Harvey in 1995 at the Royal academy which was made up of children's handprints. If you did not know who she is and what she has done it would be simply a painting made up of handprints but once you do, surely this adds a whole new dimension to your experience of viewing the artwork.

Don't think I am after fundemental truths about art here-my post re Hockney/Hirst was about attitude. Posters for the show, at the Royal Academy of Arts in London, read: "All the works here were made by the artist himself, personally." You are right that it doen't matter to the viewer about the character of the artist surely it is whether you like the piece, are moved by it or even get angry about what you are shown. Hirst has always appeared to be the producer of original ideas but as the years have gone by more has come out about how he produces his art. This must alter our perception of the pieces he produces.

Working on the gallery for this group

Come back Bryan, I'll feel a bit lonely! Start a new discussion and show us some of your work. Sticks and stones.... etc.

This is separate branch of art whereby the artist just wants to be trendy and famous (hopefully in London where the big money is). Their attitude of arrogance that they know what art is and the rest of us don't. We go back to the pile of bricks at the Tate and the Turner Prize given to an 'artist' who found art in turning of and on a light switch - good for a laugh. What will these crazy artists come up with next, eh?!! Who knows, something may come out their ideas and who says art has to be original.

Born in 1937 he was a draughtsman of the 'old' school but he used this skill to lead a section of the pop art movement with a 'a bigger splash' painted in 1967. You are right that it is his creative urge and passion that pushes him forward rather than money or fame although aquiring a fair amount of dosh has given him freedom. I love the fact that into his 70's he is still exploring new ways to represent the English and American landscape.

I restarted painting 5 years ago after a 15 year rest with new found enthusiasm, as I have a bit more time living in France, a new way of looking and am trying to develop my own style. This year I am mostly going to try some flower painting but have a large number of ideas for new landscapes as well.