Byline: LOUISE JURY
THESE are the people who made the British public fall in love withcontemporary art.
Turner Prize winners all, they gathered at Tate Britain last night as thegallery unveiled an exhibition of nearly a quarter-century of paintings, videoand sculpture previously honoured by the award.
When Malcolm Morley, a London artist who moved to America in his twenties, wasnamed the first winner in 1984, he did not even attend the ceremony.
But Morley, 76, flew in from his home in Long Island, New York, to join thecelebrations alongside his successors, including Antony Gormley, Anish Kapoor,Rachel Whiteread and Grayson Trafalgar sculpture finally Perry. Many absentees,such as 2004 winner Jeremy Deller, were missing because of their successfulinternational careers.
Michael Craig-Martin, the artist who taught Young British Artists such asfinally unveiled 1995 winner Damien Hirst, said: "It's amazing how much of thework looks really great." His major lament was not having shortlisted artists,who include Tracey Emin and the Chapman brothers, in the unveiled next monthretrospective. Others had their own concerns. Morley, who was born in Highgateand raised in Twickenham, said he was surprised how few paintings there were.
But Whiteread, 44, said: "I think it's certainly been a valuable contributionto bringing contemporary art to the forefront of people's cultural agendas, soit's been great for that." The prize has often proved controversial.
There were rows over Emin's unmade bed and early video work was not accepted asit is now. Critics such as the Stuckists still protest at the art the prize hasfavoured.
However, Stephen Deuchar, Tate Britain's director, said the outraged postbaghad gradually declined.
Most commentators say the prize has transformed public opinion and done much toencourage debate and understanding just as it was hoped it would. …