It has been a marvellous event for Derry and has raised the profile of the visual arts locally. But it struck me at the prize-giving that most of the artists seemed to have their managers or agents on hand and that they and the various visiting big-wigs appeared to know one another well.
Nothing necessarily wrong with that. Most great painters have had business associates of one kind and another. Many who didn’t were routinely ripped off. At the same time, though, there’s something about the business of art to make artists edgy.
This year’s winner of the Tate-organised competition, Laure Prouvost, was nominated for a video, “Wantee”, commissioned for a Tate show earlier this year.
Tino Seghal was nominated for two exhibitions, one of which, “These Associations”, had been presented at the Tate Modern. David Shrigley was nominated for a show at the Hayward Gallery (a very good show: I was entranced) run by Ralph Rugoff, a member of this year’s jury.
If the point of the prize is to win a wider audience for “new developments in contemporary British art”, it’s odd that pieces which have already been shown in prestigious London galleries are deemed to fit the bill. Charles Thompson of the “anti-anti art movement”, the Stuckists, went a bit far in suggesting that, “This year, the Tate awarded the prize to itself”.
The Tate doesn’t choose the winner.
But the Stuckists are on to something when they complain that the selection of pieces reflects the very small number of London galleries which dominate contemporary British art and which are crucial to artists’ commercial success.
This is an unhealthy situation which should not go unremarked.