The Turner Prize is a contemporary art award that was set up in 1984 to celebrate new developments in contemporary art. It is awarded each year to a British artist under fifty for an outstanding exhibition or other presentation of their work in the twelve months preceding.
Nominations are invited each year, and the prize is judged by an independent jury that changes annually. The four shortlisted artists present works in a show normally held at Tate Britain before the winner is announced in December. Artists are not judged on their show at Tate. The decision is based on the work for which they were nominated.
Over the recent decades the Turner Prize has played a significant role in provoking debate about visual art and the growing public interest in contemporary British art in particular, and has become widely recognised as one of the most important and prestigious awards for the visual arts in Europe.
The prize was founded by a group called the Patrons of New Art. They were formed in 1982 to help buy new art for the Tate Gallerys collection, and to encourage wider interest in contemporary art. The Patrons wanted a name associated with great British art. They chose J.M.W. Turner (1775–1851) partly because he had wanted to establish a prize for young artists. He also seemed appropriate because his work was controversial in his own day.