That great art critic Rudolph Giuliani, then moonlighting as mayor of New York, first made Chris Ofili famous in America when, in 1999, he tried to evict the Brooklyn Museum for displaying the artist’s magnificent Holy Virgin Mary, a painting that Rudy felt sullied its religious subject matter with sexual imagery. Ofili’s blasphemous Black Madonna was one of a series of sparkling works combining such materials as beaded oil paint, map pins, collaged porn images, and elephant dung, a series that won him Britain’s Turner Prize in 1998. His new work—compiled in “Devil’s Pie,” Ofili’s solo exhibition at David Zwirner Gallery—is no less perverse or disturbingly beautiful.
Dazzlingly studded with ornament, at once easy and erudite, the dung paintings re-imagined what a painting could be; they threw open a door to the future.
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