Turner prize: artists over 50 will now be eligible for prestigious award


Artists of any age will be able to participate in Britain’s most prestigious contemporary art prize following
rule change.


The Guardian reports that Britain’s most prestigious contemporary art prize is making major rule changes to allow artists of any age to participate – an acknowledgement that people are never too old to “experience a breakthrough in their work”.

The Turner prize, which has helped the early careers of artists including Rachel Whiteread, Damien Hirst and Tracey Emin, will from this year lift its rule that eligible artists must be under 50.

The sculptor Anish Kapoor, who was 37 when he won the prize in 1991, welcomed the change. “It is a good thing,” he said. “We have had a long, long, long obsession with youth in the art world and I think it is good to recognise that it often takes a lifetime to really have the work recognised, to be an artist.

“While we celebrate youth and innocent invention, there is something about other ages … I’m glad; this is good.”

The Turner prize was created in 1984 and initially was open to anyone working in the arts, including critics, curators and gallery directors. That was changed in 1988 to allow only artists and in 1991 the age restriction was introduced to prevent it being seen as a lifetime achievement award.

Alex Farquharson, the director of Tate Britain and chair of the Turner prize jury, said the terms of the prize had always been kept under review, but it was the right time to make a change.

“The Turner prize has always championed emerging artists,” he said. “It has never been a prize for long service but for a memorable presentation of work in that year. Now that its reputation is so firmly established, we want to acknowledge the fact that artists can experience a breakthrough in their work at any stage.”

No climbing the ladder, no come-backs – now that’s an interesting world! Is all this a setup for the notion that you’ve got one shot at it and that’s it? Graduate school and the art world would have you think so, but I’m not buying. One obvious example of that is the 72-year-old Phyllida Barlow, regarded by many people as one of the most exciting British artists working today.

Over recent years, Barlow’s work has been on prominent display at both Tate Britain and Tate Modern; Hepworth Wakefield as part of the Hepworth sculpture prize; and the vast space of Zurich’s Kunsthalle. This year, Barlow will represent the UK at the Venice Biennale, the world’s most prestigious contemporary arts event, yet as recently as 10 years ago she was not selling work and no gallery was collecting it.

Ironically, Barlow, for decades an art teacher at the Slade, spent her career teaching and mentoring artists who have included Turner prize-winners such as Whiteread, Martin Creed and Douglas Gordon. The Turner prize organisers also announced another rule change that clears up something of an annual confusion. In previous years artists were judged only on projects for which they had been nominated and not for any work they might have created for the Turner prize exhibition. From now on work for the exhibition will also be taken into consideration.

The changes were announced as the 2018 Turner prize jury was revealed. It will include the novelist Tom McCarthy; Lisa Le Feuvre, head of sculpture studies at the Henry Moore Institute; Elena Filipovic, director of Kunsthalle Basel; and Oliver Basciano, art critic and international editor of ArtReview.

The shortlist for this year’s prize, to be held in Hull, will be announced in early May.

Kapoor was speaking as he unveiled new work at the Lisson Gallery in London, including three large, disturbing, amorphous forms that he made from quick-drying silicone.

The messy maroon-and-black sculptures are part of a conversation, he said, about the status of objects, their uncertainty and “inbetween-ness”, and the act of looking. “From that, meaning arises and there is something in that which is both problematic and deeply poetic.”

(Article source: The Guardian)

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