David Hockney denies criticising Damien Hirst

David Hockney and Damien Hirst David Hockney (left) and Damien Hirst have major exhibitions opening in the UK early this year

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Artist David Hockney has denied attacking Damien Hirst for using assistants to complete his works.

Hockney was reported to be criticising Hirst when he told Andrew Marr in a Radio Times interview that the practice was "a little insulting to craftsmen".

But the Royal Academy of Arts, which is staging a major Hockney exhibition, has issued a statement on his behalf.

The artist "has not made any comments which imply criticism of another artist's working practices", it said.

Marr wrote that Hockney was "critical of artists with no craft, who delegate the making".

He wrote that a poster for the exhibition read "All the works here were made by the artist himself, personally" and added that Hockney nodded when asked whether that was a dig at Hirst.

"It's a little insulting to craftsmen, skilful craftsmen..." Hockney told Marr. "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."

That was widely reported as a rebuke to Hirst. But the Royal Academy has said Hockney's views were taken out of context and that the criticism "did not happen".

"The Royal Academy wishes to make it clear that, contrary to some recent press reports, David Hockney has not made any comments which imply criticism of another artist's working practices," the statement said.

"Nor are there any words to this effect on the poster promoting his forthcoming exhibition at the Royal Academy of Arts."

The line "All the works here were made by the artist himself, personally" was on Hockney's gallery wall but not on a poster for the exhibition, the spokeswoman said.

Hockney, 74, who is known for his strong opinions, has prepared a series of new landscape paintings of his beloved East Yorkshire for the Royal Academy show, which opens on 21 January.

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