Chris Ofili is weaving magic

Chris Ofili Image copyright AFP
Image caption Chris Ofili's tapestry took three years to create

I know some folk think Chris Ofili has gone off the boil since his Turner Prize-winning heyday, when he was considered one of Charles Saatchi's gang of Young British Artists.

Back then, Ofili incorporated elephant dung and cut-outs from porn mags in his paintings, which upset Mayor Giuliani considerably (and the current President who called Ofili's painting, Holy Virgin Mary, "absolutely gross") when Saatchi took his Sensation show to NYC in 1999.

Nowadays, the Mancunian artist lives and works in Trinidad and produces lyrical paintings full of myth and mysticism, infused with the spirits of Henri Matisse and William Blake. El Greco-like elongations have taken the place of porn, the turquoise of the Caribbean Sea now as present as was once elephant dung.

I like his new work. I don't think he's lost form, just moved on. The core of what he does is the same, which is to mix pop culture and art history. From a technical point of view it seems to me that his sensitivity to colour has developed, and his line is more assured. The effect of moving from a modern metropolis to a rural island culture has clearly had a big impact on how he perceives and represents the world.

Image copyright AFP
Image caption Ofili was made a CBE earlier this month

All of which can be seen in his latest work, a large-scale tapestry called The Caged Bird's Song (a riff on Maya Angelou's book, I Know Why The Caged Bird Sings) currently hanging at the National Gallery in London, before taking up permanent residence at the Clothworkers' Company - the London Livery Company that commissioned it.

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Why I've changed my mind about Henry Moore

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Image caption Moore's Reclining Figure (1929) is part of a new exhibition at the Henry Moore Foundation

You really can have too much of a good thing.

Champagne tastes like sheet metal after the third glass. Sunbathing gives you cancer. And the ubiquity of Henry Moore sculptures in English market towns in the 1970s put me off his work for a quarter of a century.

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Damien Hirst says his new exhibition 'cost me £50m'

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Media captionDamien Hirst: "If I close my eyes I can see this guy"

Damien Hirst's new exhibition Treasures from the Wreck of the Unbelievable has been nearly a decade in the making, and cost the artist tens of millions of pounds.

It runs until December in Venice, Italy.

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Howard Hodgkin: What's in a self-portrait?

Portrait of an Artist Listening to Music Image copyright PA
Image caption Portrait of the Artist... was Hodgkin's attempt to describe how he remembered himself

Sometimes with art, it is instructive to gauge public opinion. It can help blow away the cobwebs of pretension that get spun in your mind's eye if you hang around the art world too much.

It's a particularly useful exercise with modern art, and almost essential when it comes to the abstract stuff. Hence, I arrived on Piccadilly this morning armed with a photo of one of the last paintings Howard Hodgkin produced before he died two weeks ago.

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The harsh realities of the Oscars acceptance speech

Jimmy Kimmel hosting the Oscars Image copyright AP
Image caption The view from the gods at this year's Academy Awards

Here is the scenario. You are sitting in the Dolby Theatre on Hollywood Boulevard at the end of February in 2020. It is Oscars night and you have been invited.

Not as a plus one, or as a makeweight in a corporate sponsorship deal, but in your own right as an artist. After years of working in an edit suite/behind a camera/in the wardrobe department, your work has finally been recognised by your peers.

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The art of a President Trump state visit

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A current family fad is playing that word-association game in which you respond to the previous player's word with a relatable one of your own, eg me: "Annoying." Son: "Dad." Wife: "Bald eagle."

And so on. We've played a lot recently, such that I've started to react to the daily news in a similarly tangential way, where related but seemingly random thoughts pop into my head over and above more conspicuous concerns.

Read full article The art of a President Trump state visit

Is squatting art?

Squatters have turned the house into a homeless hostel Image copyright PA
Image caption The squatters have turned the house into a homeless hostel

I've been thinking a lot about ANAL today. That is the Autonomous Nation of Anarchist Libertarians who are currently squatting in a whopping five-story house in Eaton Square, an upmarket part of London near Buckingham Palace.

According to the Guardian, the "1,329 square metre property has polished parquet floors, tasteful uplighting and a grand spiral staircase" and is owned by a wealthy Russian man (media shorthand: an oligarch) called Andrey Goncharenko.

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Artes Mundi winner is 'more important than ever'

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Media captionThe video that won £40,000

A video art installation inspired by migration and religious persecution has won a £40,000 prize.

London-based film-maker John Akomfrah won the Artes Mundi award for his "substantial body of outstanding work", including his latest video installation - the 40-minute film, Auto Da Fe.

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Is Saatchi Gallery selfie exhibition just self-promotion?

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Image caption Taj Mahal Self-Portrait, a 1966 photograph by George Harrison that features in the exhibition

I have never taken a selfie. I'm far too ugly.

That said, I have ruined other people's, on those occasions when asked by a friend or arts fan to join them in a smartphone photo.

Read full article Is Saatchi Gallery selfie exhibition just self-promotion?

Tristram Hunt inherits a V&A in pretty good shape

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From what I saw of the V&A as a member of the Art Fund's judging panel for its Museum of the Year accolade last summer, Tristram Hunt is inheriting an organisation in pretty good shape.

After a bit of argy bargy over hot croissants and cold coffee, we judges decided to give the prestigious award to the South Kensington institution because it was unquestionably a centre of excellence serving an appreciative public to a high degree.

Read full article Tristram Hunt inherits a V&A in pretty good shape