LONDON ~ British artist Mark Leckey was named this week the winner of this year’s Turner Prize, contemporary art’s most prestigious award, with a film that included cartoon characters such as Homer Simpson.
The film, which also featured Felix the Cat and Garfield and showed him lecturing on his love of animation, was part of a body of work that won the 44-year-old the £25,000 (US$37,000) prize.
In a ceremony at London’s Tate Britain museum hosted by musician Nick Cave, Leckey said: “It’s a big thrill. It’s great to do something that has some kind of effect on British culture and it’s part of British culture.”
He was the bookies’ favorite to win the accolade, given to a British artist – those working in Britain and born here – aged under 50 for an outstanding exhibition or other presentation of their work in the previous year.
Alongside the film being shown at the Tate, Leckey was chosen for his solo exhibitions Industrial Light & Magic at Le Consortium, Dijon, and Resident at Kolnischer Kunstverein, Cologne, combining sculpture, film, sound and performance.
“With wit and originality, Leckey has found a variety of forms to communicate his fascination with visual culture,” the jury said in a statement.
Leckey is professor of film studies at Stadelschule, a college in Frankfurt, and was a founding member of “musical collectives” Donateller and Jack too Jack.
Speaking about his work before the announcement, the artist, who is fascinated by how flat images can become three-dimensional, said: “I want to transform my world and make it more so. Make it more of what it is.”
Leckey beat off three female rivals for the prize, Scotland-based Cathy Wilkes, Polish-born Goshka Macuga and Bangladesh-born Runa Islam.
Now 24 years old, the Turner Prize has become synonymous with controversial art, with Damien Hirst – who made his name pickling animals in formaldehyde – among the former winners.
Wilkes’ exhibition this year included a naked mannequin draped in horseshoes sitting on a toilet and a mannequin with her head in a bird cage.
Macuga recreated the glass, fabric and steel textile displays made by designer Lilly Reich for the 1929 International Exhibition in Barcelona, which were destroyed but for which drawings and photographs remain.
Islam meanwhile was nominated for three carefully choreographed film works, which include a slow motion shot of a woman who smashes pieces of crockery one after the other onto the floor.