Tate Britain Exhibition

Turner Prize 1984

Turner Prize 1984 banner

Malcolm Morley was the winner of the first Turner Prize, held in 1984


  • Richard Deacon – nominated
  • Gilbert & George – nominated
  • Richard Long – nominated
  • Malcolm Morley – winner
  • Howard Hodgkin – nominated

Expatriate English Painter wins British Art Award

In the early 1980s the Tate Gallery showed a fraction of the contemporary art it exhibits today. At a time when government funding was being cut, there was a need to forge links between the private and public sector. In 1982 the Tate Gallery launched the Patrons of New Art, a high-powered group of individuals, who assisted in the purchase of contemporary art and founded the Turner Prize.

The prize appealed immediately to the media and up to two million people watched the award ceremony on BBC’s Omnibus. However, the press questioned Malcolm Morley’s relevance to British art, since he had lived in New York for the past twenty-five years.


  • Rudi Fuchs, Director, Van Abbemuseum
  • John McEwen, art consultant, Sunday Times Magazine
  • Nicholas Serota, Director, Whitechapel Art Gallery
  • Felicity Waley-Cohen, Chairman, Patrons of New Art
  • Alan Bowness, Director, Tate Gallery

Turner Prize 1984 in quotes

I think of myself as aninternational artist but essentially it’s English painting rather than a kind of European painting …Turner is certainly one of my heroes.
Malcolm Morley, Omnibus broadcast, November 1984

Now we all know the world thinks highly of our rock musicians but we don’t necessarily know that the world thinks highly of our painters and this kind of publicity and razzamatazz and bit of Miss World type show business excitement seems tome to be no bad thing.
Alan Bowness, Director, Tate Gallery, BBC radio interview, November 1984

Malcolm Morley. The dark horse of the group. Clearly has no chance. Largely because he’s been living in America for the past 20 years and hardly qualifies as a British artist.
Waldemar Januszczak, the Guardian, November 1984

Tate Britain

London SW1P 4RG
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1–30 November 1984

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