Vomiting aristocrats! Over-50s get nominated for British art's Turner Prize

A gallery worker stands next to a painting by Turner Prize nominee Lubaina Himid at the press preview for the 2017 Turner Prize at Ferens Art Gallery in Hull, Britain, on Sept 25, 2017.
A gallery worker stands next to a painting by Turner Prize nominee Lubaina Himid at the press preview for the 2017 Turner Prize at Ferens Art Gallery in Hull, Britain, on Sept 25, 2017.PHOTO: REUTERS

LONDON (Reuters, NYTimes) - A 63-year-old, Tanzanian-born artist whose creations include dinner plates painted with vomiting aristocrats is one of a new breed of nominee for British art's high-profile Turner Prize: an over-50.

This is the first year since 1991 in which artists age 50 and older are eligible for the prize, and two nomineees - Lubaina Himid, 63, and British painter Hurvin Anderson, 52 - were made eligible by the lifting of the age limit.

"It feels at this moment that contemporary art is not as generational as perhaps it was in the 90s or even in noughties," Alex Farquharson, chairman of the Turner Prize jury, said.

"There are so many artists, now of older age, whose work is being shown in very contemporary contexts and being discussed in very current critical context, and are being looked at by younger artists."

The artists on the shortlist also come from international and multicultural backgrounds, making it one of the most diverse selections to date. The other two shortlisted artists are German-born painter Andrea Buttner, 45, and British film-maker Rosalind Nashashibi, 44.

Anderson, the son of Jamaican immigrants, is known for his paintings of barbershops, some of which are included in the Turner Prize exhibition, which opened on Tuesday at the Ferens Art Gallery in Hull, northern England. He is also showing vibrant paintings of trees and foliage.

Himid examines the African diaspora in her paintings, drawings and installations. Among her works on display is a collection of English ceramics painted with images of black slaves.

Buttner works in woodblock prints, etchings and paintings. Her pieces include a display about Simone Weil, the French philosopher and activist, that is on loan from the Peace Gallery at the Anti-War Museum in Berlin.

Nashashibi, the youngest nominee, is screening two films, one set in Gaza and the other Guatemala. Both merge documentary techniques with scripted scenes.

Critics have applauded the decision to raise the age limit for this year's prize, crediting it for the varied and thoughtful range of works. In a four-star review, Jackie Wullschlager, chief art critic of The Finanical Times, described it as "the most serious, accessible Turner exhibition this century".

Adrian Searle, art critic for The Guardian, said that raising the age limit allowed older artists to take part. He counted Himid among the artists that "don't hit their stride until relatively late or are, for various reasons, overlooked".

Mark Hudson, art critic for The Daily Telegraph, said that, unlike its predecessors, this year's show had "less emphasis on glitzy star-making, less intellectual navel-gazing and more of the themes and ideas that the non-art specialist might actually care about".

But he added a word of caution: "There's a danger that the prize may once again become an award for past achievement, rather than for work reflecting art today."

The Turner Prize was established in 1984 and is awarded to an artist born, living or working in Britain. During the 1990s, it helped launch the careers of some of the stars of the Young British Artists movement, such as Damien Hirst and Tracey Emin. Multimedia artist Helen Marten won last year.

The prize, which comes with a cash award of £25,000, is to be given on Dec 5. The exhibition showcasing nominees' work runs until Jan 7.