Wednesday, 27 May 2020

Turner's Year Off

Good news about this year's Turner Prize: it's been cancelled. Instead, ten bursaries of £10,000 will be distributed to young artists. Turner would (probably) have approved: at least it gives him a year off from rolling in his grave. The prize, which began as a serious, almost safe, affair, recognising genuine artistic endeavour (Howard Hodgkin won in the second year, and even the shortlists were pretty impressive to begin with), started to go seriously wrong when the ineffable Damien Hirst won in 1995. Since then it has been all downhill, as the prize has routinely rewarded the most arid, meretricious and dreary trends in establishment art – notably, overwhelmingly, 'conceptual art'. Painting, except in its most garish and primitive forms, rarely gets a look-in. So yes, a year off will be most welcome – and when the Turner Prize resumes, let's hope it changes its name to something less insulting to the memory of one of our greatest painters.

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