Some people think David Shrigley’s artwork isn’t serious enough to be, well, taken seriously. Yet the artist, noted for the humour that runs through his comical line drawings, may have the last laugh after being nominated for the Turner Prize.
The 44-year-old was named on the shortlist for the UK’s most prestigious contemporary art award, and its £25,000 bounty, alongside film and installation artist Laure Prouvost, painter Lynette Yiadom-Boakye and Tino Sehgal, whose “live encounters” have been performed in sites including Tate Modern.
Shrigley, who was born in Macclesfield and has been based in Glasgow since studying at the Glasgow School of Art, was nominated for the retrospective of his work at the Hayward Gallery in London. His artwork has won legions of admirers including celebrated musicians and authors, and even inspired obsessive fans to tattoo his sketches on their bodies, yet has been ignored for serious acclaim from the art world.
“He had been wrongly overlooked for a long time because his work suggested itself as being just funny and therefore marginal,” said Penelope Curtis, director of Tate Britain and chair of the jury. “Just because it’s funny, doesn’t mean it’s not good.”
He had been seen as a “wild card,” Ms Curtis said, but his show at the Hayward had “quite considerable impact”. She added: “Really it was a new look at an artist who had been familiar for quite some time.” Shrigley’s exhibition included drawings, sculpture, photography and film. The jury said it revealed “his black humour, macabre intelligence and infinite jest”. Among the stand out works was a stuffed dog holding a sign reading “I’m dead”.
Cliff Lausan, curator of Shrigley’s show at the Hayward, said the nomination was “wonderful news. I’m really pleased for him”. ?He said: “What makes David’s work unique is he’s got one foot in the pop culture world, the way his drawings circulate, and the other in fine art…”
The work has brought him fans including author Dave Eggers, and musicians with whom he has collaborated including Blur and Franz Ferdinand.
Mr Lausan said Shrigley’s appeal stems from his sense of humour. “Every piece of work he does, the drawings, sculptures and collaborations with other artists. His sense of humour cuts right through.”
The 29th Turner Prize will be the first one to be awarded outside of England. The winner will be announced in the converted military barracks in Derry as part of the city’s year-long reign as UK City of Culture.
Turner Prize shortlist 2013:
David Shrigley - The Macclesfield-born Glasgow-based humourist is known for his line drawings but is also a sculptor.
Tate says: "[He is nominated for] his solo exhibition at Hayward Gallery David Shrigley: Brain Activity which offered a comprehensive overview and new perspectives on his work. Including not only his well-loved drawings but also photography, sculpture and film, the exhibition revealed his black humour, macabre intelligence and infinite jest."
Laure Prouvost - The recipient of the 2011 Max Mara art prize for her short films and installation work is from Lille but is based in London.
Tate says: "Her unique approach to filmmaking, often situated within atmospheric installations, employs strong story telling, quick cuts, montage and deliberate misuse of language to create surprising and unpredictable work."
Lynette Yiadom-Boakye - The London-based artist of Ghanaian descent has been shortlisted for her Extracts and Verses Exhibition at the Chisenhale Gallery.
Tate says: "Yiadom-Boakye’s intriguing paintings appear traditional but are in fact much more innovative. Her portraits of imaginary people use invented pre-histories and raise pertinent questions about how we read pictures in general, particularly with regard to black subjects."
Tino Sehgal - The British-German artist makes "constructed situations" and is nominated for the "live installation" he staged at the Tate Modern's Turbine Hall last year.
Tate says: "Seghal’s intimate works consist purely of live encounters between people and demonstrate a keen sensitivity to their institutional context. Through participatory means, they test the limits of artistic material and audience perception in a new and significant way."