Organisers of the Turner Prize have cancelled the 20202 edition of the award due to the coronavirus pandemic and will instead award 10 bursaries of £10,000 to 10 chosen artists.
The prize, named after English painter J.M.W Turner, has run every year since 1984 with the exception of 1990 when organisers took the year out to to revamp it as a contemporary art prize with a focus on emerging artists.
In a normal year, Turner prize judges would reveal their shortlist during the month of May. Shortlisted artists would then be invited to create an exhibition for later in the year, with the winner being revealed in December. One winner would be awarded £25,000 with the three other shortlisted artists given £5,000 each.
Last year Lawrence Abu Hamdan, Helen Cammock, Oscar Murillo and Tai Shani were the first artists to win collectively by their own insistence. In previous years, Rachel Whiteread, Anish Kapoor, Tracey Emin, and Damien Hirst have bagged the award.
Tate Britain organises the annual prize, with the award ceremony often held at the Tate Britain gallery. Alex Farquharson, the director of Tate Britain, said the practicalities of organising the annual exhibition made it impossible to stage the prize this year.
“We have decided to help support even more artists during this exceptionally difficult time,” he said. “I think JMW Turner, who once planned to leave his fortune to support artists in their hour of need, would approve of our decision.
“I appreciate visitors will be disappointed that there is no Turner prize this year, but we can all look forward to it returning in 2021.”
The award is not without controversy. Sometimes depicted as an elitist closed shop for those connected to certain industry bigwigs. The prize is a favoured target for the Stuckist movement, who campaign for figurative painting over conceptual art and fight against the consumption of British contemporary art by commercial entities.
Whatever your opinion of the Turner Prize, it certainly helps to promote British contemporary art and encourages a potential artist to pick up a brush, chisel, palette knife, or pillow case. That can only be a good thing. We look forward to a return to relative normality and hope to see the Turner prize back for 2021.