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Friday, 1 June, 2001, 16:06 GMT 17:06 UK
Stoppard attacks 'self-indulgent' art
BBC News Online users give thumbs down to Turner Prize shortlist
Playwright Tom Stoppard has made a scathing attack on the Young British Artist movement for producing work he said was artless, self-indulgent and without spiritual meaning.

Stoppard was giving the keynote speech at the Royal Academy's annual dinner, following the shortlisting of artists who work in Blu-tac and neon for the Turner Prize.

Tom Stoppard
Tom Stoppard: Art should be made
Guests at the dinner included the chair of the Turner Prize jury, Tate director Nicholas Serota.

Stoppard singled out artists who conceived works rather than made them, saying: "The term artist isn't intelligible to me if it doesn't entail making."

He added, in a reference to artist Tracy Emin's exhibit My Bed: "It is but a hop, skip and jump to Tracy's knickers."

The Royal Academy's annual dinner brings together artists, gallery directors, business people and politicians.

The Academy is currently previewing its summer exhibition, which will feature works by some of the best-known Young British Artists including Emin, Damien Hirst and Marcus Harvey.

Click here to see some of the Royal Academy exhibits

Stoppard made a link between the work of such artists and Marcel Duchamp, who exhibited a urinal in 1917 under the title Fountain.

He said that Duchamp's gesture had been a valid attack in the orthodoxies of the time, but that now conceptual artists were themselves an orthodoxy, championed and supported by the establishment.

News Online vote

Much 20th Century art had value only because artists asserted that it did, he said.

The public may have some sympathy with Stoppard's position, according to the results of a BBC News Online vote on the Turner Prize nominations.

Asked who you thought should win the Turner Prize, almost two-thirds (58%) said "none of the nominated artists".

Most popular of those on the shortlist was Martin Creed - who uses objects he finds, including rubbish, to create installations - with 14% of the votes.

Photographer Richard Billingham was second, with 12%.

Film-maker Isaac Julien was third with 10% and installation artist Mike Nelson trailed with 7%.

See also:

30 May 01 | Arts
Turner Prize 2001: The artists
25 Apr 01 | Arts
Emin's new show gets personal
28 Nov 00 | Entertainment
Photographer wins Turner Prize
28 Nov 00 | Entertainment
Copycat row hits Turner Prize
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