20 OCTOBER 2001, Page 36

Artistic gestures

From Mr Robert Crozier Sir: Does Richard Dorment ('Here's looking at us', 13 October) really believe that the reason that Tracey Emin, Damien Hirst, et al. are recognised by their first names is because 'modern art has deeply penetrated the skin of the British public'? Surely it is because they so regularly provide stories for the redtops and indignation pieces for the dumbed-down broadsheets.

And it is pointless for Dorment to object that those who criticise Emin's type of work often haven't actually seen it, when he provides the very reason why, in so many cases, this is unnecessary. When you read that the Emin exhibit is an idea-based piece consisting of a dishevelled, soiled bed surrounded by such detritus as condoms and dirty knickers, you do get the general 'idea'. Seeing it becomes redundant. Ditto the work of the artist who systematically destroyed all his possessions. These are not really ideas in the intellectual sense, more gestures; and, far from being threatening or challenging, the most frequent complaint I hear about the young British artists is that the work is so obvious and so easily understood.

Robert Crozier