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Westwood Rails on Gimmicky Artists

Oct. 27 2008, Published 7:07 a.m. ET

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ON ART Westwood

A puzzled audience at the London Guardian's Hay Festival watched as flame-haired fashion icon Vivienne Westwood performed a one-woman "manifesto" on the state of the visual arts in the UK, decrying the proliferation of one-trick pony "conceptual artists" like bug-collecting shark-pickler Damien Hirst or dirty-bed creator Tracy Emin.

Insisting "you've got to train, your feet have got to bleed" in order to achieve artistic greatness, Westwood went on to act out her "vision" in the voices of characters as disparate as Alice in Wonderland, Aristotle, and Pinocchio. And in spite of the fact that Westwood herself has not been immune to the temptations of a quick buck—a certain cheap-chic collaboration with Nine West comes to mind—she was undaunted in chastising other artists for cashing out.

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Several onlookers walked out during her eccentric diatribe, which contained inscrutable gems of wisdom such as: "But wait! Who is this with firecracking smoldering pigtails, gold teeth, and a brace of flintlocks in his belt? He is a pirate. And what does his T-shirt say? 'I LOVE CRAP.'"

An excerpt of Westwood's "play" after the jump ...

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