Tate Britain Exhibition

Turner Prize 1989

Turner Prize

Richard Long was awarded the Turner Prize 1989

Turner Prize

Richard Long assembling his solo exhibition at the Tate Gallery following his Turner Prize 1989 award


  • Gillian Ayres – commended
  • Lucian Freud – commended
  • Richard Long – winner
  • Giuseppe Penone – commended
  • Paula Rego – commended
  • Sean Scully – commended
  • Richard Wilson – commended

What is the Turner Prize for?

A list of commended artists accompanied the announcement of a winner in 1989, but this did little to satisfy the media’s desire for a public competition. The selection criteria were still unclear and Italian Guiseppe Penone became the first foreign artist to be nominated for the strength of his exhibitions in Britain. The Prize seemed predictable since all the artists shortlisted in the first year had gone on to win the award. The failure to secure a backer for 1990, after its corporate sponsor went bankrupt, gave Tate a timely opportunity to reconsider its future.


  • Barry Barker, Director, Arnolfini
  • Bernard Blistene, Curator, Musée d’Art Moderne, Paris
  • Richard Dorment, art critic, Daily Telegraph
  • Evelyn Jacobs, representative of the Patrons of New Art
  • Nicholas Serota, Director, Tate Gallery

Turner Prize 1989 in quotes

The confusion of the Turner Prize and what it’s supposed to do reflects the problems that the Tate has – whether it’s a posh museum that remains aloof from everything, or whether it’s really in there in the centre of contemporary art, making things happen and reflecting what’s going on.
Matthew Collings on The Late Show broadcast, November 1989
The trouble with the Turner Prize, right from the beginning has been that no one seems certain what it is for. Of course it is modelled on the Booker Prize, with its well-publicised list of nominees, celebrity jury, and tranced pause for speculation … the Turner Prize has never achieved anything like the same impact.
John Russell Taylor, the Times, November 1989

Tate Britain

London SW1P 4RG
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1 January – 31 December 1989

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