Yorkshire-born Hockney, 74, whose major exhibition of landscapes opens at the Royal Academy this month, told the Radio Times that it was “insulting” for an artist to employ others to make their creations.
A poster for his show at the Royal Academy reads: “All the works here were made by the artist himself, personally.”
Asked if he was having a dig at Hirst, famous for covering a human skull with 8,601 flawless diamonds and suspending a shark in formaldehyde, Hockney nodded and said: “It’s a little insulting to craftsmen, skilful craftsmen.”
He added: “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.” Hockney quoted a Chinese saying that to paint “you need the eye, the hand and the heart. Two won’t do.”
David Hockney: A Bigger Picture spans a 50-year period to show the artist’s long exploration and fascination with the depiction of landscape.
Hirst has defended using assistants to make his spot paintings, saying they could do the work better as he found it boring.