Jonathan Jones doesn’t have much patience for the Hirst bashers about in the run up to the Tate Modern’s retrospective of his work coming in 2012:
Picasso is exciting; Duchamp is an academic cult. The readymade as it was deployed by Duchamp gave birth to conceptual forms that are “interesting” but rarely grab you where it matters.
Hirst is more Picasso than Duchamp – the Picasso who put a bicycle seat and handlebars together to create a bull’s head. He’s even more Holbein than Duchamp – the Holbein who painted a skull across a portrait of two Renaissance gentlemen.
He is a giant of modern art. There is something hilarious about those who pride themselves on their interest in contemporary art, following the latest names from Glasgow and so forth, but sneer at the supposed vulgarity and cynicism of Hirst. This is like saying, in 19th-century Britain, “My goodness, I really love all this great Victorian art we have nowadays, with its sentimental scenes and frock-coated portraits, but I hate that vulgar Turner. What a fraud!”