Sue Hubbard at Artlyst:
We are awash with prizes across the arts. From the Man Booker, to the National Poetry Competition, from the John Moores to the Jerwood Drawing Prize. There are probably also copious music prizes and dance prizes that I know nothing about. And yet does this hunger for X-Factor style winners and losers really make any sense? If there’d been a Turner Prize in late 20th century Paris who would have won? Picasso or Braque? And would the runner up have been seen as an also-ran, one who slipped from view into the murky shallows of art history? It’s worth asking what these prizes are really measuring? It’s like comparing sardines with toffee apples. You wouldn’t want either of them all the time. But each has their value. How can a film be better than a painting, a video than an installation?
But we live in a consumerist age. Competitions provide razzmatazz and bruhaha that have little to do with the winner being the ‘best’. The public (and much of the art world) rely on the seal of approval that a prize bestows to know who to watch, which horse (so to speak) to put their money on. Having said that, it is an improvement that the proceedings now take place in different cities and that the event isn’t so metropolitan centric. And, probably, it’s a good thing that it’s open to older artists. But in the end what’s being judged is never quite clear, even though the official line it that it’s ‘a prize awarded to British artists and artists based in Britain for outstanding exhibitions and projects presented over the past year…[that] bring new developments in contemporary art to a wider public and…encourage debate around art made today’.