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Britain’s top art prize awarded in its 25th year

December 7, 2009 - LONDON

The judges of Britain's prestigious but controversial Turner Prize select their choice from among four finalists and present the award on the same day, 7 Dec. The award worth UK 25,000 Pounds (US $40,000) was set up in 1984 to celebrate new developments in contemporary art. It is best known for exhibits, such as pickled sheep and soiled beds, that are often described as incomprehensible. Damien Hirst, the 1995 Turner prize winner, attracted controversy for his exhibit of a pickled cow.

The judges of Britain's prestigious but controversial Turner Prize select their choice from among four finalists and present the award on the same day, 7 Dec. The award worth £25,000 (US $40,000) was set up in 1984 to celebrate new developments in contemporary art. It is best known for exhibits, such as pickled sheep and soiled beds, that are often described as incomprehensible. Damien Hirst, the 1995 Turner prize winner, attracted controversy for his exhibit of a pickled cow. The 2009 finalists are Lucy Skaer, Richard Wright, Richard Hiorns and Enrico David. Their work is on display at the Tate Museum in London until 3 Jan 2010. Skaer's work includes Leviathan Edge, 2009, the skull of a sperm whale, just visible from behind a screen partitioned with "peep holes". Another piece, Black Alphabet, 2008 is a series of 26 sculptures made from coal dust. Wright's display includes a highly intricate gold-leaf pattern that took about three weeks to install and will be destroyed when the exhibition closes. Hioms' exhibits include a heap of metal dust from an atomised passenger jet engine. Some of Hirorns' other works contain cows' brains. He created a sensation with his 2008 exhibition Seizure, for which he filled a derelict apartment with liquid copper sulphate which encrusted into crystals. Enrico David presents "Absuction Cardigan" (2009), a collage of sculptures, paintings and papier-mache "eggmen" described by the exhibition as a "parade of unruly characters" that represent the artist himself. The prize, which triggers debate on what is and isn't art, is awarded each year to a British artist under 50 for an outstanding exhibition or other presentation of their work in the12 preceding months. The prize is named after JMW Turner, who, despite being controversial in his own day, is now seen as one of Britian's greatest artists. Oct/09

Turner Prize

Whale skeleton vs. cow brain at UK Turner art prize (Reuters 5 Oct 2009)

Date written/update: 2009-12-07