“Turner Prize”

Tate Britain

“NO JURY, NO PRIZES” was one of the great slogans of modernism, but since publicity is today valued more than autonomy, ours is a time when, as the Dodo said, “all must have prizes.” The art world’s best-known award, the Turner Prize, is a consequence of this shift in values, which naturally goes unmentioned, not to say unlamented, in Tate Britain’s retrospective of Turner-winning art. The exhibition does, however, shed light on the past twentytwo years of contemporary art in Britain, on that art’s relationship to the public, and—not least—on what kinds of artwork typically garner and then benefit from what journalist Laurence Marks, writing of the first competition in 1984, characterized as “a great cloud of fuss, feuding, gossip, theatrical controversy, dismissive remarks about the great modernists, and so forth.”

The show gets off to a rip-roaring start with a pair of stunning

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