The Turner Prize is the British art world’s most peculiar honorary beast – it’s often bestowed upon the work that least resembles what we know or think we know is art; it is almost exclusively awarded to conceptual pieces – despite being open to all artistic media; and it is without a doubt the most publicised art award, if not in the world, then certainly in the UK. Historically, the Turner has focused on young artists – and, really, it is largely responsible for the enormous success and notoriety of the artists involved in the Young British Artist movement, including: Tracey Emin, Sam Taylor-Wood, Antony Gormley, et al; and the stated purpose of the prize is “to celebrate new developments in contemporary art”.

This year represents a possible shift in focus, as all of the shortlisted artists are in their 40s – no masturbatory enfant terrible Damien Hirst types in the bunch; and similarly, those shortlisted – Dexter Dalwood, Angela de la Cruz, Susan Philipsz and The Otolith Group (Anjalika Sagar and Kodwo Eshun) – are all firmly established artists in their field, a departure from the Turner’s customary Emperor’s New Artist selections. Of course, conceptual art knows no age limit – whoever can think of the most unusual method of visually communicating their most dysfunctional shit is the winner of the day.

Enter Angela de la Cruz. She breaks and folds her paintings in on themselves and displays them wedged into corners and doorways or on the gallery floor. She considers the ”stretcher an extension of the body” and broke the stretchers of her canvases as a student ”freeing paintings from the boundaries of its support”, according to the Tate. In one, called Ashamed, she placed a small, yellow-stained and folded canvas in the corner of a room. We’ve all been that four year old.

As is generally the case, the 2010 Turner shortlist reiterates the fact that, with art, one man’s drop sheet is another man’s million dollar wall hanging.

The short listed artists work goes on display in the Tate Britain from October 3rd, until the winner is announced (usually by a random celebrity) in December.

The spectacle that is the Turner Prize is an unmissable experience for conceptual art aficionados – and there’s no better place to view the finest Britain has to offer than at the Tate.
Art lovers: get thee to London and see for yourself.