Short on shocks, Turner art prize leaves London

Thu Oct 20, 2011 3:13pm EDT
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By Mike Collett-White

GATESHEAD, England (Reuters) - In the absence of any big shocks at this year's Turner Prize exhibition, organizers hope the quality of the works on display will be enough to generate headlines and positive buzz for the show.

The annual award is one of the contemporary art world's most recognizable and controversial, which on occasion sparks heated public debate about what constitutes art.

It has been dismissed as "The Prize for the Emperor's New Clothes," and previous winners include Martin Creed, whose exhibit in 2001 was an empty room with lights going on and off. Three years earlier Chris Ofili triumphed with paintings propped up on elephant dung.

But the Turner has also helped cement the careers of some of Britain's leading contemporary artists, including Damien Hirst, who won in 1995, Steve McQueen (1999) and Antony Gormley (1994).

This year, the nominated artists are Karla Black, Martin Boyce, Hilary Lloyd and George Shaw, and their works are on display at the BALTIC gallery in Gateshead, northern England, from October 21 to January 8.

It is only the second time in its 27-year history that the Turner Prize has been held outside London, and the first time at a gallery not belonging to the Tate stable.

Godfrey Worsdale, BALTIC director and member of the 2011 jury, said the kind of indignation that used to accompany the prize may be a thing of the past as British art lovers have become more sophisticated.

"I like to think the debate has moved on a bit," he told reporters during a press preview of the show on Thursday.   Continued...

<p>A gallery worker poses for a photograph with Karla Black's piece 'More of Today' during a press preview for the Turner Prize 2011 at the Baltic Centre for Contemporary Art ,in partnership with Tate, in Gateshead, northern England October 20, 2011. REUTERS/Phil Noble</p>