'Most diverse Turner Prize to date'

Clockwise from top left: Hurvin Anderson, Andrea Buttner, Rosalind Nashashibi, Lubaina HimidImage copyright
David Levene

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Clockwise from top left: Works by Hurvin Anderson, Andrea Buttner, Rosalind Nashashibi, Lubaina Himid

It was once the domain of outrageous young artists.

But this year the Turner Prize has grown up, shining a light on overlooked older artists, unsensational subject matter and traditional methods.

The exhibition of the four shortlisted artists opens in Hull on Tuesday.

After a rule change, Hurvin Anderson and Lubaina Himid are the first ever over-50s to be nominated, while Andrea Buttner and Rosalind Nashashibi are both in their 40s.

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David Levene

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Lubaina Himid used cut-out figures for The Fashionable Marriage

In the past, the Turner Prize has been famed for works like Damien Hirst, with his cow in formaldehyde, Tracey Emin’s unmade bed, and Martin Creed’s The Lights Going On and Off.

Only artists under 50 have been eligible before – but this year, Anderson, 52, and Himid, 63, have taken their places in the nominees’ exhibition after the age restriction was lifted. They are the bookies’ favourites to win.

Zanzibar-born, Preston-based Himid tackles attitudes to race, from slavery to the present day, through her tableaux of wooden figures and painted-over pottery. Anderson’s vivid paintings blend his home city of Birmingham with the Jamaica of his forebears.

Tate Britain director Alex Farquharson, who is chairing this year’s jury, said there was a desire to celebrate artists who had previously been neglected by the mainstream.

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Hurvin Anderson

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Hurvin Anderson has depicted barber shops, including in Is It Okay To Be Black?

“The art world is more interested than ever before in important but overlooked figures, and work that was made in fairly recent times that didn’t have the visibility for whatever reason,” he said.

“Sometimes that’s to do with its politics, sometimes it’s to do with the identity of the artist – you see, for example, a lot of work by older women being revisited by curators today. And particularly in the case of artists of colour and women artists.”

Farquharson said this year’s was “the most international and diverse Turner Prize to date”.

He explained: “There is an artist from a Jamaican background, from an Irish and Palestinian background, an artist born in Tanzania and an artist born in Germany. But they’re all part of the British art scene.”

Farquharson also said there is “quite a lot of painting” in the exhibition – unlike in some previous years. He said artists no longer feel that unusual materials and methods are any more innovative than more traditional artforms.

The exhibition is at Hull’s Ferens Gallery as part of the UK City of Culture celebrations. The winner will be named on 5 December and will receive £25,000.

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Stuttgart-born Andrea Buttner is based in London and Berlin

Analysis – BBC arts editor Will Gompertz

This year’s Turner Prize is an unmitigated disaster for the headline writers of Fleet Street. There are no enormous backsides to riff off, or unmade beds on which to pour scorn – there’s no shock, or sensation, no vulgarity or profanity.

In fact, the most remarkable thing about the 2017 Turner Prize is that it is unremarkable. All four shortlisted artists can actually paint – if they chose to do so; they largely make their own work, and the political and philosophical points they make are expressed with sense and sensibility.

I suppose a more conservative exhibition was the inevitable outcome of removing the age restriction allowing artists over 50 to be considered for inclusion – as indeed two have this year. The Turner Prize has grown up.

Read more from Will Gompertz.

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