Thursday, March 15, 2007

The Crazy World of the Turner Prize

In the March 19, 2007 issue of The New Yorker, there is an article (not available online) by Sarah Thornton on the Turner Prize, an annual award to an artist under 50 based in Britain who has had an outstanding show in the previous year. The prize is named for J.M.W. Turner, Britain's greatest artist of the 19th century (and I have the wall calendar to prove it).
I only wish art prizes in the United States were as enthusiastically followed. There is betting on the outcome, with the odds varying as the nominees vie for public attention. There's even a television show called "The Turner Prize Challenge," where contestants compete to see who can best explain the artwork of the nominees to the public. Could you imagine a show like this in the United States?

On one hand, I find all artistic competitions to be troublesome, just as I find any "who's the best?" polls to be not very valuable (but that doesn't keep me from following them). The article describes the Turner Prize competition as "a cross between the Academy Awards and 'American Idol'", which should raise some flags right there. But, on the other hand, anything that gets people excited about art, especially contemporary art, can't be all bad.

The winner was Tomma Abts. Her painting Ert appears above.

{BTW--I chose the link to J.M.W. Turner above specifically because it called him "Painter of Light." Take THAT, Thomas Kincade! Of course, I read recently that 1 in 10 homes in America has something by Kincade on their wall, so he's laughing all the way to the bank.}

1 comment:

Annie and Bob said...

But contemporary art *is* bad...