Lubaina Himid becomes oldest victor of UK's Turner Prize

Joann Johnston
December 6, 2017

Himid is the first black woman to win the prize, as well as the oldest-ever victor, at 63.

THE TURNER Prize 2017 has been awarded to Lubaina Himid, it was announced yesterday evening at a ceremony in Hull Minster, in partnership with Tate and Hull UK City of Culture 2017. Her own work challenges these boundaries, as seen in her solo show Revenge, featuring consecutive paintings of black women protagonists and memorials to the horrors of the transatlantic slave trade, at Rochdale Art Gallery and the South Bank Centre, London, in 1992, which contested the pictorial narratives so frequently repeated in art history.

The Turner Prize award money is 40,000 pounds ($54,000), with 25,000 pounds going to the victor and 5,000 pounds each for the other short-listed artists.

All of this - and much else besides - makes her newsworthy. The exhibition opens with Himid's monumental Freedom and Change, 1984, which appropriates and transforms the female figures from Picasso's Two Women Running on the Beach (The Race), 1922, into black women, powerfully and humorously subverting one of the most canonical paintings in Western art history.

Himid was announced the victor at a ceremony at the Ferens Art Gallery in Hull, which is now hosting the Turner Prize exhibition.

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The exhibition's centrepiece is 1987's A Fashionable Marriage, which is based on William Hogarth's Marriage a la Mode. Organizers had lifted a previous age limit to reflect the fact that artists can produce their best work at any age. Margaret Thatcher and Ronald Reagan are the feted (not to say fated) lovers as the countess and the lawyer Silvertongue.

The winning artist said she felt "like I won it for a lot of people, so that's why it means a lot". In all probability, she herself will now make the front page of the paper. The jury was chaired by Alex Farquharson, the director of Tate Britain.

The jury made a decision to reward her for the "vitality of her work" and "the seriousness of the issues she deals with, which are very relevant today", said Tate Britain museum director and president of the award jury, Alex Farquharson.

The prize's panel said they admired Himid's "expansive and exuberant approach to painting which combines satire and a sense of theatre".

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