Featuring Tracey Emin’s unmade bed and Damien Hirst’s pickled cow, the Turner Prize was once the preserve of the Young British Artists.
Following a rule change, Britain’s most notorious art prize could now be won by a Very Old British Artist. The upper age limit of the prize, which was set at 50, has been abolished.
“We have always kept these terms under review and we feel that now is the right moment to make the change,” said Alex Farquharson, director of Tate Britain and chairman of the Turner Prize jury.
“The Turner Prize has always championed emerging artists - it has never been a prize for long service but for a memorable presentation of work in that year.
“Now that its reputation is so firmly established, we want to acknowledge the fact that artists can experience a breakthrough in their work at any age.”
In theory, the YBAs could make a Turner Prize comeback: Emin (who never won the prize, but hogged all the headlines in 1999) is 53, while 1995 winner Hirst is 51. Rachel Whiteread, who won in 1993 with her inside-out house, is 53.
However, the committee said the prize was highly unlikely to go to an already established artist as it is known for celebrating emerging talent.
“This is about recognising that there are artists who come to prominence late in life,” a spokesman said. “For a previous winner to win again, they would have to put forward a new and outstanding presentation.”
The shake-up comes after several years in which critics questioned the relevance of the prize.
It has failed to make much of an impression since the early 2000s, when the winning installations included Martin Creed’s lights going on and off and Grayson Perry’s pots.
Last year, the £25,000 prize went to a giant pair of buttocks, the work of Helen Marten.