Martin Roth: A born frontman

Martin Roth Image copyright Getty Images
Image caption Roth raised the V&A's profile both at home and abroad

I met Martin Roth shortly before he took up his post as the V&A's director. He knew I'd worked at Tate and so asked me what I thought might surprise him about running a British institution.

"Meetings," I said, and left it at that.

Six months later I stopped by the V&A for a coffee with him to see how he was getting on. The newly installed director sat down, blew out his cheeks, and exclaimed, "Meetings!"

For a dynamic individual with a can-do attitude and bags of self-confidence, the peculiarly British way of managing a national museum was baffling and frustrating. He could still get done what he wanted to get done, but only once the palaver of making sure every department in the institution felt included and consulted was concluded.

It took him a while to acclimatise, and for the museum to get used to him. Not everyone was a fan, but many were. He was a born frontman who enjoyed the warm glow of the spotlight, as do most museum directors. He put his natural showmanship to good use by raising the V&A's profile and status in the UK and abroad.

Read full article Martin Roth: A born frontman

Spitting image: Can drool be art?

Justine Varga and Shaune Larkin Image copyright Tweed Regional Gallery
Image caption Artist Justine Varga with judge Shaune Larkin and her winning portrait

Justine Varga's portrait of her grandmother has caused controversy after winning the Olive Cotton Award - Australia's top portrait prize worth A$20,000 (£12,000). The portrait, called Maternal Line, contains no face - and the artist used her grandmother's pen scrawls and streaks of her saliva to create the work. But is it art?

Jackson Pollock made scrawly abstract drip paintings; 70 years later Justine Varga has made a scrawly abstract dribble painting. That's progress for you.

Read full article Spitting image: Can drool be art?

Dali’s last great (posthumous) artwork

Salvador Dali Image copyright LAMA/EPA

This whole Dali exhumation business is weird. It's right up there with any of his surreal artworks for its sense of the macabre and otherness. Nothing about this story is straightforward.

Let's start with where he is buried. Having died in 1989 and then been embalmed by Narcis Bardalet (who said he thought Dali would have found this whole affair hilarious), he was buried under the stage of his Theatre Museum in Figueres, north east Spain.

Read full article Dali’s last great (posthumous) artwork

Why the Tate's new boss needs to grasp the nettle

Maria Balshaw Image copyright AFP/Getty
Image caption Maria Balshaw was named as the Tate's new director in January

Maria Balshaw wants to make the Tate "the most culturally inclusive institution in the world", which she thinks it is far from being at the moment.

"We are about a third of the way down the road," she says.

Read full article Why the Tate's new boss needs to grasp the nettle

Notes for Brooklyn Beckham (from an old man to a young man)

Brooklyn Beckham Image copyright PA

Brooklyn Beckham's first photography book, What I See, has been published to somewhat mixed reviews.

Here are a few thoughts:

Read full article Notes for Brooklyn Beckham (from an old man to a young man)

Why is this painting worth $110m?

Untitled painting by Jean-Michel Basquiat Image copyright EPA

Given that Yusaku Maezawa has paid $110.5m (£85.4m) for Jean-Michel Basquiat's painting, one has to accept that to at least one person, it is worth $110.5m.

I have to say it strikes me as a bonkers price to pay. It's not that Basquiat wasn't a good artist, he was.

Read full article Why is this painting worth $110m?

Kate Tempest wants her audiences to leave happy

Media playback is unsupported on your device
Media captionKate Tempest on why she wants audiences to leave her show happier

Follow us on Facebook, on Twitter @BBCNewsEnts, or on Instagram at bbcnewsents. If you have a story suggestion email

Read full article Kate Tempest wants her audiences to leave happy

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.

Read full article Chris Ofili is weaving magic

Why I've changed my mind about Henry Moore

The Henry Moore Foundation Image copyright PA
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.

Read full article Why I've changed my mind about Henry Moore

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

Media playback is unsupported on your device
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.

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