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Artist Richard Wright pulls upset to win Britain's Turner Prize

December 7, 2009 |  7:11 pm

Turner

Britain's Turner Prize continued its tradition of unpredictability today by announcing artist Richard Wright as this year's winner.

Wright beat out Enrico David, Roger Hiorns and Lucy Skaer, all of whom were short-listed for the coveted prize that is awarded to British artists under the age of 50. This morning, reports stated that Hiorns was the odds-on favorite going into the competition. But Wright, 49, emerged victorious when judges made their announcement this evening at the Tate Britain in London.

The judges said that they "admired the profound originality and beauty of Wright's work," according to a report in the Guardian. For the competition Wright created a fresco made of gold leaf that gives the impression of abstract images but is composed of landscape images.

Wright received the £25,000 ($41,131) prize this evening, while the runners-up each received prizes of £5,000 ($8,225).

For this year's competition, Hiorns created an installation comprised of dust-like particles collected from a jet engine that had been melted down. Skaer's entry included sculptures made from compressed coal dust and a work that features the skull of a sperm whale. David's creations included sculptures on rocking legs among others.

Past winners of the Turner have tended to be artists who specialize in shocking creations that make bold statements. Previous victors include Damien Hirst, Gillian Wearing and Steve McQueen.

The prize has received much criticism throughout its nearly 25-year history for the conceptual art that judges have recognized in the past. Members of the international Stuckism movement, which also criticizes conceptualism, have staged protests against the Turner in the past.

-- David Ng

Photo: Richard Wright's prize-winning artwork at the Tate Britain. Credit: Andy Rain / EPA

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