Underdog Painter Wins the Prestigious Turner Prize

Turner Prize, Tate Britain, Richard Wright

LONDON — Against all odds and in his last year of eligibility, 49-year-old Glasgow-based artist Richard Wright has been awarded the 2009 Turner Prize.

Organized by the Tate gallery, the annual Turner Prize is presented to a British visual artist under the age of 50. The award is named after famed landscape artist J. M. W. Turner and was established in 1984 to celebrate new developments in contemporary art.

In years past, the Turner Prize has been awarded to conceptual artists working in "innovative" media, such as video art, installation art and unconventional sculpture. So it was a shock to some - especially bookies - when a painter, Richard Wright, was announced as the $41,000 prize winner on Monday night.

But Richard Wright is no ordinary painter.

Wright's entry for the Turner Prize exhibition is a large gold-leaf mural that will be painted over and destroyed once the show at Tate Britain closes in January. "I like the idea of there being nothing left when I'm gone," said Wright, who deliberately painted fresco-style directly onto the gallery wall. "I'm interested in the fragility of the moment," he said. "I hope the work will live on in the memories of the people who saw it."

The three other shortlisted candidates - Enrico David, Roger Hiorns and Lucy Skaer - will each receive $8,000.

Turner Prize, Lucy Skaer, Tate Britain
Enrico David, Tate Britain, Turner Prize
Roger Hiorns, Tate Britain, Turner Prize
Watch as Adrian Searle, art critic for The Guardian, tours the Turner Prize exhibition and discusses the finalists' entries:

[Images: Top - Richard Wright, "No Title" (2009). | Bottom (left to right) - Lucy Skaer, "Black Alphabet" (2009). Roger Hiorns, "Untitled" work made from metal dust from an atomized passenger jet engine  (2009). Enrico David, ""Absuction Cardigan" detail (2009).]


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