Click on any headline to view the full article...

Is the Turner Prize a Reflection of Art Today?

Back when the Bee was young I had a bit of a strop about the Tate Gallery (or 'Tate Britain' as it's been rebranded).  This prompted Ethan Wilderspin to send in  the following piece on the Tate, the Turner Prize, and, y'know, Art...

Is there any question that Claude Monet’s Impression Sunrise is art? (Whether you like the painting or not is a different matter.)  
Is Tracy Emin’s My Bed art? Does anyone like it?

Impression Sunrise (Claude Monet Prints)
My Bed (Saatchi Gallery)
 The Turner Prize is either a prestigious award for contemporary art in the UK for artists under 50, or it is “Crap” – a pretentious award given to talentless individuals who are self proclaimed ‘artists’. Why is there so much controversy and disagreement over the Turner Prize? Is it because some people fail to grasp modern conceptual art, or is it because some people wake up in a bed not all that unlike Miss Emin’s every day? Indeed, does raw artistic talent lie within the rooms of all adolescent boys on the mornings that their mothers forget to scold them for their untidiness? 

The Turner prize emerged the 1980’s and has had more media attention since its beginnings than any other award for artists in Britain. It is named, perhaps some what ironically, after the 19th Century English landscape painter J. M. W. Turner. The prize (awarded in the Tate Britain gallery), although having been given to painters on occasion, is heavily criticized for generally focusing on conceptual or installation art. This is undeniably the case but why do these art mediums cause so much controversy around the event?

2008 Turner Prize winner Mark Leckeytalking of the controversy surrounding the prize, said, ‘I don’t care about all this.  I want to make work that has some kind of effect on people, and basically…  this show got called effectless, it had no impact and is attenuated. But I don’t get that.’ Disregarding Leckey’s personal opinion, he summarises the outlook of many in relation to the Turner Prize.

The Stuckists are a group of people who demonstrate on the doorstep of the Turner Prize every time it’s held. They claim to be “Anti the pretensions of conceptual art”, which according to them is the same as being Anti Anti-art. Essentially this shows that whether the Turner Prize is a good indication of contemporary British art or not, comes down to whether or not the individual considers a lot of the conceptual, video and instillation pieces actual art or not.

This seems to be the case, as everyone seems to want to put in their two penny’s worth. Kim Howells wrote "If this is the best British artists can produce then British art is lost.” Janet Street-Porter said “The Turner Prize entices thousands of young people into art galleries for the first time every year. It fulfils a valuable role”. There is so much criticism that comes from every angle, positive and negative. But the problem with the Turner prize is that this seems to be its very purpose; media hype. It is a showcase of controversy and that is all it ever has been, a magnet for media attention. Every year people wait to see how bizarre, mundane or talentless the new contestants' work will be; never do they expect (or, so it seems receive) ‘Art’ but instead media hype about some stupid soulless award.

John Bourne, curator of the Tate museum said "We are grateful for the extra publicity the Stuckists have given the Tate". This seemingly witty comment actually just seems to confirm the notion that the Turner Prize is nothing more than a mainstream advertisement which uses the media for its marketing. Is that art?

Ethan Wilderspin describes himself as 'A nineteen year old unemployed layabout with vague comic book author/illustrator aspirations...'