Tate Britain Exhibition

Turner Prize 1999

Steve McQueen was awarded the Turner Prize 1999 and he recieved the £20,000 prize on 30 November

Turner Prize

Turner Prize 1999 poster

The award was won by internationally acclaimed artist Steve McQueen, for his film and video works. In awarding him the prize the jury admired the poetry and clarity of his vision, the range of his work, its emotional intensity and economy of means.


Media coverage of Tracey Emin’s My Bed

1999 saw attendance rise to a record 140,000, with an average of 2,000 visitors a day. Media coverage was dominated by Tracey Emin’s work My Bed – an installation of her unmade bed complete with dirty sheets and detritus – which provoked an extreme critical response. The high visibility of My Bed in the tabloid press prompted culture secretary Chris Smith to criticise the jury for deliberately selecting ‘shock’ installations that gave the country a bad name abroad. However, the award was won by internationally acclaimed artist Steve McQueen, for his film and video works.


  • Bernhard Bürgli, Director of the Kunsthalle, Zurich
  • Sacha Craddock, writer and critic
  • Judith Nesbitt, Head of Programming, Whitechapel Art Gallery
  • Alice Rawsthorn, representative of the Patrons of New Art
  • Nicholas Serota, Director, Tate Gallery

Turner Prize 1999 in quotes

If there’s no genuine feeling it comes across as if they’ve just chosen a subject and done a small project on it. What I’m doing is a life-long project.
Tracey Emin as quoted in The Big Issue, October 1999
It makes me so angry to see these so-called artists glorifying a messy bedroom. What is the world coming to when a major art exhibition sends out this message?
Mother interviewed in The Sun, October 1999
Many modern artists take the view that art should address the more unpleasant realities of life and should not necessarily be conventionally beautiful … Tracey Emin, while controversial, is a well respected contemporary artist of the younger generation and already has an international reputation – My Bed was shown in exhibitions in New York and Tokyo earlier this year.
Standard Tate reply letter in response to Tracey Emin complaints

Tate Britain

London SW1P 4RG
Plan your visit


20 October 1999 – 23 January 2000

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Jane and Louise Wilson discuss their recent work and artistic practice.

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Something's wrong: Melanie McGrath on Tracey Emin

Melanie McGrath

Melanie McGrath meets the artist whose appearances in art magazines have been shockingly rare

Find out more