Art by all ages: Turner Prize shortlist removes upper age limit

04th May 2017

This years Turner Prize shortlist revealed a noticeably older group of artists after the organisers decided to remove age restrictions, it has been reported. 

Originally, since 1991, the Turner Prize had an upper age limit of 50 years, but this year the four artists range from 43 to 62. The decision came after the organisers acknowledged that artists of any age can have breakthrough moments. 

While the Turner Prize aims to promote public debate around new developments in contemporary British art, there is often controversy over who is nominated. However, with the elimination of age and the nominations of two painters, it is hoped that there will be more positivity surrounding the prize. 

Yet the decision to choose older artists was not something that was made consciously, explains Emily Pethick, the director The Showroom and one of the Turner Prize judges. She said: “We really responded to artists we felt had really deepened their practices and were at really exciting moments; we weren’t really looking at age.

“It is just clear when an artist is really in their moment and that is what we really wanted to reflect.There is a seriousness and we are living in serious times. We felt that needed to be reflected in this year’s shortlist.”

Zanzibar-born Lubaina Himid is aged 62 and is the oldest artist competing for this year’s prize. Ms Himid creates paintings, prints, drawings and installations that celebrate black creativity and challenge institutional invisibility.

Earlier this year, Ms Himid exhibited a solo show at Modern Art Oxford that featured paintings from a decade-long series for which she painted over pages of the Guardian newspaper, accusing the liberal media of “simultaneously visualising and making invisible black people’s lives”.

Rosalind Nashashibi is the youngest artist aged 43 and works primarily in film. She was also shortlisted for an exhibition in California and her participation in the 2017 Documenta contemporary art festival. 

According to the Turner judges, it was the depth and maturity of her work that impressed them. Two films in particular caught the eye of the judges: Electrical Gaza 2015 and Vivian’s Garden 2017.

Another nominee is Hurvin Anderson, who has created paintings that explore identity and feature numerous references to his Jamaican heritage. Mr Anderson is one of the best-known artists on the shortlist. 
The judges have described him as “an outstanding British painter whose art speaks to our current political moment with questions about identity and belonging”.

In the past winners have included Damien Hirst, Rachel Whiteread and Helen Marten (last years winner). The 2017 champion will be announced on the BBC on December 5th and the winner will receive a £25,000 prize. 

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