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Turner Prize 1999
by Walter Robinson
 
     
  It seems only yesterday that the Tate Gallery in London awarded its coveted 1998 Turner Prize to Chris Ofili, the African English artist known for his folksy Afro-Pop paintings including collaged chunks of elephant dung. Since winning the £20,000 award, Ofili's work has rocketed to the top of the art market, with one painting recently selling at auction for $39,000, about double the price commanded by his work just six months before.

So art-market handicappers are closely watching the shortlist for the Turner Prize 1999, officially announced by the Tate this week. The four finalists are British bad girl Tracey Emin, African English filmmaker Steve McQueen, custom-cameraman Steven Pippin and twin sisters Jane and Louise Wilson, known for their haunting video installations about Cold War architecture. Traditionalists will note the absence of any painters on the list. And New York gallery-goers will remember that all of the artists have showed in the Big Apple.

Emin, 35, currently has an exhibition of her work on view at Lehmann Maupin in SoHo titled, "Every Part of Me's Bleeding." She was included in "Sensation: Young British Artists from the Saatchi Collection," which includes the emblematic Everyone I Have Ever Slept With, 1963-1995, a small tent embroidered with 102 names. She became notorious in Britain after a riotous, apparently drunken appearance on a 1997 television program about the Turner Prize, and the Evening Standard dubbed her the favorite to win. Her drawings are priced at $2,100 to $4,500. The neurotically delicate watercolors are $2,300. Emin's neon pieces, which are fabricated in editions of three, range in price depending on size. Sober Sex is $12,000 and Every Part of Me's Bleeding is $20,500. The dramatic My Cunt Is Wet with Fear is sold out.

The 32-year-old Wilson twins recently showed Stasi City at 303 Gallery in Chelsea, a video installation of slow-speed footage of the interior architecture of the deserted Stasi secret police headquarters in East Berlin. Large installations by the Wilson twins sell in the $35,000 to $45,000 range. Color photographs are priced from $7,000 to $10,000.

Pippin, 38, is perhaps best known for photographs that are made by converting things like washing machines or toilets into cameras. He was cited by the Turner Prize jury specifically for Laundromat-Locomation, which was exhibited in San Francisco and Philadelphia. In New York, Pippin is represented by Gavin Brown's Enterprise Corp. on West 15th Street, where photos can be had for $10,000 to $30,000. The gallery has a show of Pippin's sketchbook drawings for his machines scheduled for July (to be mounted in the house constructed in the gallery by fellow artist Rirkrit Tiravanija).

McQueen, who is 30, has shown his slow-motion black-and-white films of men walking, wrestling and performing simple motions at both the Museum of Modern Art and the Marian Goodman Gallery. McQueen was cited for his installation Drumroll, a 22-minute-long tripartite video installation with sound. He has also produced "Barrage," a series of photographs taken in Paris of the fabric that covers storm drains. These works are available at Goodman, though the gallery declined to give prices for publication.

The winner of the prize, awarded to a British artist under 50 for an outstanding exhibition during the previous year, will be announced in November.


WALTER ROBINSON is editor of Artnet Magazine.