The 1991 Turner Prize poster

Turner Prize 1991

Today we go back exactly twenty years to the day, November 6th 1991, to the opening of that years Turner Prize at Tate. Below are  shortlists of the finalists and of the jurors for that year, once again it was a very strong year with some of the most interesting and influential British artists of resent times; with a particular emphasis on  a generation of painters and sculptors .


(Links to the Tate website)


  • Maria Corral, Director, Reina Sofia Centre, Madrid
  • Penny Govett, representative of the Patrons of New Art
  • Andrew Graham-Dixon, art critic, The Independent
  • Norman Rosenthal, Exhibitions Secretary, Royal Academy of Arts
  • Adrian Ward-Jackson, Chairman, Contemporary Art Society
  • Nicholas Serota, Director, Tate Gallery

After its suspension in 1990 due to lack of funding, which to some extent was influenced by the questionable ethos of the prize competition at that time, 1991 saw the relaunch, if you will into what we would recognise as the Turner Prize as we know it today. This involved basically a complete overhaul of the competition. At Nicholas Serota’s suggestion the competition this year broadened its mind, to some extent, to accept that youth should not be an issue when it came to the selection of the competitors and this was reflected when three of the chosen finalists turned out to be under thirty. It did however take this approach too far for many people by also adding an upper age limit of fifty the selection criteria. Most of the other familiar selection criteria were also introduced at this time; the limiting of the shortlist to four entrants and their selections now to be based on, ‘an outstanding exhibition or presentation’ of theirs from the preceding twelve months. At this time the prize also saw the entrance of its ongoing sponsorship deal with Channel 4 and the raising of the prize money to £20,000.

It was said to be a difficult year for the jurors; Whiteread’s notorious House had raised many eyebrows of both a positive and a negative complexion and was thought to be a strong contender. But it was finally Kapoor’s showing at the Venice Biennial in 1990 that finally swung things his way to be adjudged , probably correctly, the winner.

Rachael Whiteread's installation from the 1991 Turner Prize

Rachael Whiteread’s installation from the 1991 Turner Prize

 Next weekend; George Shaw and Turner Prize 1997.