In the Guardian, Charlotte Higgins checks in with the past Turner Prize winners. Since 1984, only four painters have won. Here are excerpts from Higgins’ reports.
Tomma Abts, 2006
“Abts agonised before accepting the nomination, stretching the two-day deadline to two weeks – she was worried, in particular, about the press reaction. ‘My work isn’t suited to sound-bite journalism,’ she says. ‘It depends on minute decisions made in the studio.'”
Chris Ofili, 1998
“If there is one overwhelming emotion that Chris Ofili communicates in relation to having won the 1998 prize, it is pride. ‘It was a real milestone for me, and lots of positive things came out of it. A painter hadn’t won the prize for a long time, and I was very proud of that. I felt I’d achieved something that was considered to be important. And my family were very proud of me. After I won I went back to look at the show, and people came up to me and said they would feel able to encourage their children to become artists.”
Howard Hodgkin, 1985
“Hodgkin, now 75 and one of Britain’s best-known and most respected painters, believes the effect of the prize has been enormous. ‘It’s an extraordinary invention,’ he says. ‘I think it has opened up the experiencing of contemporary art to many more people than would otherwise have been possible.’ And yet, perhaps surprisingly, he adds, ‘I don’t think that if I were a young painter today I would win it. The odds are against the kind of artist I am winning the Turner prize.'”
Malcolm Morley, 1984
“That show brought together Morley’s early abstract canvases, his ground-breaking 60s ‘super-realist’ works, and his New Expressionism of the early 80s. There was still an almighty rumpus when he was named winner. The others on the shortlist – Richard Deacon, Richard Long, Howard Hodgkin, Gilbert and George – practised their art here, but Morley had left Britain in 1958 (‘I met an American girl on the No 37 bus and it was a case of cherchez la femme’). His long absence stuck in the craw of many critics – arts minister Lord Gowrie criticised the choice of winner even as he announced it.”
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