The artist is still shrouded in secrecy

Alice Jones: We don't need this to show our arts are world-beating

Damon Albarn, Mike Leigh and Victoria Wood. Not the first names that spring to mind when you think of sport but they're all in the Olympics. At least, they're in the art world's answer to them, known as the London 2012 Festival, or the Cultural Olympiad, depending on which bit of the Kafka-esque 140-page brochure you get lost in.

Artistic impression: Witty works of art are an appealing feature of the Crosby Street Hotel in New York

Something to Declare: There's an art to creating an inspiring place to stay

Dew-kissed rose petals: every time I see a close-up photo of them in a hotel, a part of me dies.

Julian Spalding challenges Tate director to public debate over Hirst exhibition

Julian Spalding, who has headed some of Britain's foremost public galleries, has laid down a gauntlet in a letter to the Tate director, challenging him to a public debate to justify why the art gallery has spent taxpayers’ money on a Hirst exhibition when the “works aren’t art”.

Cate Blanchett's performance in Big and Small at the Barbican has been hailed as 'mesmerising' and 'magnificent'
Gillian Wearing's '2 into 1' (1997)

A YBA who's still causing a big sensation

The Whitechapel Gallery in east London is holding the first major retrospective of Gillian Wearing. Adrian Hamilton is moved by her deeply affecting films and photographs

One of Hirst's sought-after Spot paintings catches a visitor's eye at Tate Modern

Damien Hirst, Tate Modern, London
Gillian Wearing, Whitechapel Gallery, London

As the young Turks come of age, two shows reveal that their mature selves can be both nasty and nice

Gunther von Hagens presents Crucifix for Easter

It’s a gory portrayal of the crucifixion, created from casts of human bone and blood vessels, which looks certain to offend Easter church-goers. But Dr Gunther von Hagens, the controversial anatomist, insists that his latest work is not blasphemous but a true expression of Christian values.

Damien Hirst poses in front of his work, I Am Become Death, Shatterer of Worlds, at the retrospective show at the Tate Modern which opens tomorrow

Damian Hirst, maestro of the macabre

A new retrospective at the Tate Modern shows how little of himself Damien Hirst reveals, says Adrian Hamilton

Last night's viewing - Modern Spies, BBC2; Damien Hirst: Thoughts, Work, Life, Channel 4

In Modern Spies, Peter Taylor was at pains to make it clear to us that contemporary intelligence work isn’t a bit like film and television fictions would have us believe. This will presumably come as a relief to the parents of young people who find themselves intrigued by the increasingly open recruitment procedures of the UK’s intelligence and security services. One British intelligence officer here revealed that when she’d told hermother what her new job was, she’d replied, “Oh my goodness, you’re going to end up with your head in a fat-fryer!” her knowledge of MI5 having been largely gathered from watching Spooks. Her daughter assured Taylor that it isn’t really like that, just a little wistfully, I thought: “Unfortunately, I’m not running around the streets of London, chasing terrorists, being nearly blown up every week,” she said. Apparently, there’s a lot of paperwork. But, despite such testimony, Taylor had a problem with his project of de-glamourisation, which was the deep devotion of television to the visual rhetoric of the spy movie.

Unnatural world: detail from 'Sympathy in White Major - Absolution II' (2006)

Damien Hirst: The maestro of the macabre

From sliced-up cows to dead sharks, Damien Hirst is the master of statement, but his retrospective at the Tate shows how little of himself he reveals

Damien Hirst work on sale in Tate Modern retrospective

Damien Hirst merchandise, from a deckchair to a plastic skull, is on sale for eye-watering price tags of up to £36,800 at the first UK retrospective of the controversial British artist.

Artist as subject: Damien Hirst in Kiev for a show

My pupil Damien Hirst: Michael Craig-Martin on the making of art's wunderkind

As the Tate Gallery mounts a major retrospective of the superstar artist's work, Damien Hirst's former teacher Michael Craig-Martin describes the beginnings of a career that has redefined British art.

British artist Damien Hirst's work is sub-prime

Julian Spalding: Damien Hirsts are the sub-prime of the art world

If you are unfortunate enough to have acquired any Hirsts, sell them before they become worthless

Simon Kelner: A rare view of the patron saint of modern Brit art

As a founding father of modern advertising, Charles Saatchi clearly knows a thing or two about image. He understands how to influence public perception, and how to get a message across powerfully and effectively.

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Our woman in Beijing builds a new relationship

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Courage is rare. True humility is even rarer. But the only British soldier to be awarded the Victoria Cross in Afghanistan has both

Courage is rare. True humility is even rarer

Beware of imitations, but the words of the soldier awarded the Victoria Cross were the real thing, says DJ Taylor
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