The surprise of the 1997 shortlist is not that all four nominees are women - that might have been expected after the press reaction to last year's all-male lineup - but the choice of artists: Cornelia Parker, Angela Bulloch, Gillian Wearing, and Christine Borland. None is yet a household name and though all four have persuasive credentials, other names were more widely touted for consideration by this year's judges. For example, both Sarah Lucas and Tracey Emin enjoyed full-scale exposure and considerable acclaim, within the allotted time-span. And this year people are upset that there is no painter among the four, as though putting paint to canvas is somehow an inherently more serious, more salutary way of making art than object-based installation or video. Nonetheless, it is true that not one of the excellent British painters shortlisted in recent years - from Fiona Rae and Gary Hume to Peter Doig and Ian Davenport - has been given the prize money (a hefty [pounds]20,000).
The judges this year represent quite a cross-section - from curators and writers to editors and collectors. There is the young Penelope Curtis of the Henry Moore Institute, Leeds, who specializes in twentieth-century sculpture and cut her teeth working for the Liverpool Tate Gallery; the American-born Marina Vaizey, writer and onetime art critic of the Sunday Times; Jack Wendler, another American-born British resident, a veteran collector and publisher of Art Monthly and the panel representative of the Patrons of New Art; Lars Nittve, the highly regarded director of the Louisiana Museum in Copenhagen, this year's panelist from abroad; and Nicholas Serota, who as director of the Tate is chairman of the jury.
My own preference at the moment is for Gillian Wearing's tragicomic videos and photographs revealing the restless underbelly of suburban living, the plangent need of "ordinary" people - nearly all of them, of course, extraordinary - to confess their anxiety and courage, all conveyed with simplicity and wit.
An associate editor at The Burlington Magazine, Richard Shone recently authored the main catalogue essay for "Sensations," a show of works from the Saatchi Collection opening this month at the Royal Academy of Arts.
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|Title Annotation:||Turner's prize given by Tate Gallery's Patrons of New Art|
|Date:||Sep 1, 1997|
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