Tate Called To Justify Squandering Taxpayers Money On Damien Hirst Exhibition

Julian Spalding

One of Britain’s most prominent curators, Julian Spalding, has written to Tate Director Sir Nicholas Serota demanding him to justify squandering taxpayer’s money on the current Damien Hirst retrospective

This call for a public debate comes in the wake of Spalding creating controversy last month with his call to all collectors to ‘sell your Damien Hirst while you still can’, believing that ‘The emperor has nothing on. When the penny drops that these are not art, it’s all going to collapse’.

The letter to Tate Director Serota reads: ‘My serious allegation is that the exhibition of Hirst is a misuse of public funds because his works aren’t art. The immense support I have received …around the world demonstrates that this is… a widely-held public view.’

‘Public figures need to be accountable for their decisions in public. The bankers responsible for the credit collapse were. So I think you need to be [accountable] for allowing a phoney avant-garde to become the establishment…’

But, that Spalding is anti-Hirst is hardly a revelation. Last month, the former director of galleries in Sheffield, Manchester and Glasgow made his position clear with the words; ‘Hirst should not be in the Tate’. He added: ‘It’s often been proposed, seriously, that Damien Hirst is a greater artist than Michelangelo because he had the idea for a shark in a tank whereas Michelangelo didn’t have the idea for his David. … [But] What separates Michelangelo from Hirst is that Michelangelo was an artist and Hirst isn’t.’

But Spalding’s bile may have more to do with promoting his latest book, that any real problem with the artist superstar. The book is called ‘Con Art – Why You Ought to Sell Your Damien Hirst While You Can’ is published next month. According to Spalding ‘Con art’ is ‘short for contemporary conceptual art and for art that cons people’.

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