Grayson Perry says Damien Hirst’s art work is “hackneyed” and “tatty”

This year's Reith lecturer Perry lists Hirst's famous shark installation in his top three works he does not like

He may be a fellow doyenne of the modern British art establishment, but Grayson Perry it seems has little love for the work of Damien Hirst.


Asked by Radio Times which works of art he doesn’t like, Perry, this year’s Reith lecturer, cited Hirst’s The Physical Impossibility of Death in the Mind of Someone Living first.

Better known as the one with sharks in formaldehyde Perry says of the work – and the artist:  “Hirst is very famous, incredibly rich and successful and he’s played a good game. He’s pulled off his masterstrokes again and again.

“They’re iconic examples of appropriation but to an insider in the art world they’re hackneyed. They suffer from the Mona Lisa curse: when an artwork becomes incredibly famous it’s difficult to see it as an artwork. It becomes a cause célèbre. I can only look at it as a bit tatty; I can’t see it as an artwork.”

The two other works of art not to Perry’s taste are Jack Vettriano’s Fetish and  LS Lowry’s painting Going to Work.

On Vettriano, the contemporary Scottish artist, Perry says: “He’s the poster boy of anti-elitism but he doesn’t address the art world. He does illustrational, nostalgic porn-book covers without seemingly any irony. He’s just not addressing his work to the contemporary art world — he’s addressing it to someone else. I don’t know who. Football managers? Not the art world.”

On the Lowry he is perhaps more scathing: “In the 1950s and 60s, The Guardian newspaper used to feature Lowry’s art all the time. He represented working-class views. The exhibition Lowry and the Painting of Modern Life at Tate Britain didn’t do him any favours. When you see all his work together you realise how repetitive it is. The subject matter is working class and everything has a nice back story to it but then you look at the work, and the style of it is quite twee, quite children’s bookish. It grates on you after the 58th viewing.”

The works he says he does like are Pieter Bruegel’s The Procession to Calvary, William Hogarth’s A Rake’s Progress and George Hicks’ painting The General Post Office. One Minute to Six.


The remarks are part of a longer interview in this week’s Radio Times, on sale on Tuesday at £1.60.