Whale skeleton versus cow brain at UK Turner art prize

Mon Oct 5, 2009 9:25am EDT
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By Mike Collett-White LONDON (Reuters) - The skeleton of a sperm whale is competing with the brain of a cow for this year's Turner Prize, Britain's annual competition of contemporary art that regularly triggers debate about what is art and what is not.

Opponents of the award, who call themselves "Stuckists," stood outside the Tate Britain gallery on London's River Thames where the award is staged and called on Monday for the "tired" and "exhausted" show to be scrapped.

But curator Lizzie Carey-Thomas defended the institution, which dates back to 1984 and has been won by the likes of Gilbert & George, Richard Long, Anish Kapoor and Damien Hirst.

"Art has more of a place in contemporary British culture than ever before," she told Reuters at the Tate, where works by the four shortlisted artists go on display to the public from October 6-January 3, 2010.

"I think last year we had 90,000 visitors to the show which was the highest for a number of years. The YBAs (Young British Artists) helped to popularize contemporary art and bring it to a new audience, although the art has moved on since then."


The first rooms of the show are dedicated to Lucy Skaer, the only woman among the nominees.

Her works include tall, black, skittle-like sculptures made with coal dust and arranged in rows and in a pile on the floor.

"Leviathan Edge" (2009) is a partial skeleton of a male sperm whale visible through narrow slits in the wall.   Continued...

<p>The shadows of visitors fall on a wall as they view part of 'Absuction Cardigan' by Enrico David at the Tate Britain in London October 5, 2009. David is one of four shortlisted artists for the annual Turner Prize. REUTERS/Toby Melville</p>