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PRINT January 1996

LETTER FROM LONDON

the Turner Prize

THE TURNER PRIZE—Britain’s high-end talent contest for the country’s hottest young art stars—is fast becoming a national institution. Each November the shortlisted candidates are plucked from the international art circuit and called home to display their wares. As each contestant mounts a show at London’s Tate Gallery, the media kicks into gear to sort out their relative merits, and for a month Britain (of all places) is gripped by feverish debates on the making and meaning of contemporary art.

First awarded in 1984 to Malcolm Morley, the now £20,000 Turner Prize is granted each year to a British artist under 50 for an outstanding show, either at home or abroad. Throughout the ’80s the prize went to the obvious suspects—internationally recognized masters such as Gilbert & George, Howard Hodgkin, and Richard Deacon. Suspended for a year in 1990, the Turner bounced back just in time to cash

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