The great artists who hate each other’s work
News that Lucian Freud was privately dismissive of some of David Hockney’s paintings shouldn’t come as a surprise. Freud, the eminence grise of British portraiture, was not one to lavish praise on any contemporary; indeed, he would often refer to his friend-turned-bitter-rival Denis Wirth-miller as “Dennis Worth-nothing”. That the latter may have stolen one of Freud’s paintings probably didn’t help, but neither left anybody in any doubt as to their opinions of each other’s output.
However, Freud was neither the first nor the last artist to get into a slanging match. Hockney himself has levelled several barbs in the direction of Gerhard Richter. “To be honest, I don’t really understand Richter,” he said in 2015. “[…] I just can’t see any profundity.” He added: “[It’s] OK, but I don’t see what’s so great aboutbout it.” Just in case the message was lost,t, he clarified that he meant all this “pejoratively”.tively”.
While e artists are rather more circumspect about bout each other’s her’s work whenhen speaking ng on the recordord in today’sy’s ultra-pro-- ro- fessional market, the gloves often come off as soon as the Dictaphone stops recording. I’ve lost count of the confidential insults I’ve heard contemporary artists sling at their peers – generally, and perhaps deservedly, Damien Hirst and Jeff Koons.
Looking back into art history, though, things get rather juicier. Michelangelo loathed Raphael and his work, while Ingres so hated Delacroix’s (he thought, immoral) paintings that he said he couldn’t even look at them.
“It smells of brimstone” was his polite assessment. William Blake had a fine sideline slagging off Royal Academy founder and art world grandee Joshua Reynolds.
More recently, Picasso was said to detest Modigliani, an animosity that apparently stretched to the former painting over one of the latter’s canvases. Nor was Picasso immune to criticism. Taking professional loathing to its ultimate, reactionary extreme was the ultra-establishment painter Alfred Munnings, who hated new developments in art so much that his later years were consumed hurling insults at Matisse and Picasso. Rumour has it that when a progressive art school near his Suffolk home was burned to the ground – a student had allegedly left a cigarette smouldering on the floor – he drove to the scene andand cheered. And who was the student some claimed responsible? None other than a certain Lucian Freud …
Gloves off … Michela ngelo loathed
Raphae l and his work
… to your horrible painting Cheers!