The Turner Prize is awarded on a yearly basis to an British artist under fifty and who is working in Britian, for outstanding work in the last year. It originated in 1984, when the Tate Gallery agreed to put up £10,000 per year in prize money (the sponsorship was take up by Drexel Burnham Lambert in 1987, and Channel 4 in 1991 when it was upped to £20,000), in a move to promote public discussion of new developments in contemporary British art. The prize is awarded by a panel of Judges consisting of, a British curator, a British critic, an overseas curator, a representative of the Tate Patrons, and the Director of the Tate Gallery as Chair.

The Turner Prize is notorious for the media hype it causes as the public (pretty understandably IMHO) can't see why pieces such as cows in formaldahyde (One of Damien Hirsts entries), or Tracey Emin exhibiting her bed (complete with used condoms, tampons, and stained underwear) should get any money at all. Past nominees and winners include

1984
Richard Deacon
Gilbert and George
Howard Hodgkin
Richard Long
Malcolm Morley

Prize awarded to: Malcolm Morley
 
1985
Terry Atkinson
Tony Cragg
Ian Hamilton Finlay
Howard Hodgkin
Milena Kalinovska
John Walker

Prize awarded to: Howard Hodgkin
 
1986
Art & Language
Victor Burgin
Gilbert and George
Derek Jarman
Steven McKenna
Bill Woodrow

Prize awarded to: Gilbert and George
 
1987
Patrick Caulfield
Helen Chadwick
Richard Deacon
Richard Long
Declan McGonagle
Thérèse Oulton
 
Prize awarded to: Richard Deacon
 
1988
no shortlist

Prize awarded to: Tony Cragg
 
1989
Gillian Ayres
Lucian Freud
Richard Long
Giuseppe Penone
Paula Rego
Sean Scully
Richard Wilson

Prize awarded to: Richard Long
 
1990
prize suspended (due to lack of sponsorship)

1991
Ian Davenport
Anish Kapoor
Fiona Rae
Rachel Whiteread

Prize awarded to: Anish Kapoor
 
1992
Grenville Davey
Damien Hirst
David Tremlett
Alison Wilding

Prize awarded to: Grenville Davey
 
1993
Hannah Collins
Vong Phaophanit
Sean Scully
Rachel Whiteread

Prize awarded to: Rachel Whiteread
 
1994 
Willie Doherty
Peter Doig
Antony Gormley
Shirazeh Houshiary

Prize awarded to: Antony Gormley

1995
Mona Hatoum
Damien Hirst
Callum Innes
Mark Wallinger

Prize awarded to: Damien Hirst
 
1996
Douglas Gordon
Craigie Horsfield
Gary Hume
Simon Patterson

Prize awarded to: Douglas Gordon
 
 
1997
Christine Borland
Angela Bulloch
Cornelia Parker
Gillian Wearing

Prize awarded to: Gillian Wearing
 
1998
Tacita Dean
Cathy de Monchaux
Chris Ofili
Sam Taylor-Wood

Prize awarded to: Chris Ofili
  
1999
Steve McQueen
Jane and Louise Wilson
Steven Pippin
Tracy Emin

Prize awarded to: Steve McQueen
 
2000
Glenn Brown 
Michael Raedecker 
Tomoko Takahashi 
Wolfgang Tillmans

Prize awarded to: Wolfgang Tillmans

2001
Richard Billingham
Martin Creed
Isaac Julien
Mike Nelson

Prize awarded to: Martin Creed

Nominees and Winners list taken from the Tate Gallery FAQ @ www.tate.org.uk

I do hope to do a brief synopsis on each artist .. starting with the winners .. any helpers please /msg me

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