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Monday, 30 December, 2002, 11:11 GMT
2002's art merry-go-round
2002 was a year of upheaval in the arts as a string of high-profile figures parted company with their employers amid dispute and controversy.


The long-running Elgin Marbles row rolled on as British Museum director Robert Anderson turned down calls for their return to Greece.

London's nomadic Royal Philharmonic orchestra was offered a permanent home in a former church in a deal with one of the capital's biggest landlords.

Seven decades of Parisian masterpieces went on display at the Royal Academy in London.

Author Philip Pullman became the first children's writer to win the 30,000 Whitbread Book of the Year prize for his novel The Amber Spyglass.

Anne Carson
January: Anne Carson won the TS Eliot prize
Canadian poet and essayist Anne Carson won the 10,000 TS Eliot Prize for Poetry for her collection The Beauty of the Husband.

Horror writer Stephen King said he would retire at the end of the year while he was "still on top of my game".


Ivan Massow, colourful chairman of the Institute of Contemporary Arts, became the year's first major casualty.

He resigned following a storm over his description of modern art as "pretentious, self-indulgent, craftless tat".

One of Labour's most influential supporters, Lord Hollick, took charge of the country's biggest arts complex, London's South Bank Centre.

Russia's oldest symphony orchestra, the St Petersburg Philharmonic, apologised after its musicians were thrown off a flight in Washington for an alleged bout of drunken behaviour.

London's Tate Modern gallery unveiled an Andy Warhol exhibition containing more than 200 works while rare drawings by Leonardo da Vinci, part of the Queen's royal collection, began a tour of British museums.


A 54m modernisation programme at London's Royal Festival Hall was approved following an acrimonious debate with Lambeth council.

Professor Gunter von Hagens
March: Von Hagens' Bodyworlds opened in the UK

Former National Portrait Gallery director Dr Charles Saumarez Smith took over at the National Gallery. He replaced Neil MacGregor, who moved to take charge of the British Museum.

The year's most sensational exhibition, Professor Gunther von Hagens' Bodyworlds, opened in the UK at London's Atlantis Gallery.

The display of plasticised human and animal bodies would later spark off an impassioned moral debate.

Pamela Stephenson won the main prize at the British Book Awards for her biography of husband Billy Connolly.

BBC Four, the BBC's digital arts and culture channel, launches.


London's Victoria and Albert Museum announced its biggest redevelopment in 50 years with a 150m revamp, including new Mediaeval and Renaissance galleries.

It was announced that Sir Anthony Tennant, chairman of the Royal Academy Trust, was standing down after being implicated in the Sotheby's auction house price-fixing case.

Ann Patchett
June: Ann Patchett took the Orange Prize
He had been named in court as the partner of Sotheby's chairman Alfred Taubman in a deal to fix the commission on art sales.

In its 34th year the Booker Prize was the subject of a 2.5m a sponsorship deal involving the Man financial services group.

The newly-named Man Booker Prize payout would rise from 20,000 to 50,000.


The Matisse Picasso exhibition at London's Tate Modern gallery offered a rare chance to compare two of the founding fathers of modern art.

The British Museum began an investigation into claims that four valuable works of art in its collection had been looted by the Nazis.

Spanish museum boss Vicente Todoli is to be the new director of London's Tate Modern art gallery, taking over early next year, it is announced.


Daniel Kitson
August: Daniel Kitson won the Perrier comedy award
American author Ann Patchett won the 30,000 Orange Prize for Fiction for her novel Bel Canto, combining a terrorist siege and the world of opera.

The ICA appointed BBC director Alan Yentob as its new chairman to replace Ivan Massow. Mr Yentob declared it was "time for a new UK art movement".

Visitors were turned away from the British Museum as staff picketed the gates in support of a strike over job cuts.

A rarely seen Monet water lily painting, Nympheas, fetched more than 13m at auction. Picasso's Nu au collier - a sensuous nude of his mistress - sold for more than 15m.


English National Opera general director Nicholas Payne resigned after critics rounded on the ENO's season under his stewardship.

The 28m Imperial War Museum North opened in Manchester, the first branch of the museum outside the south of England.

Ross Stretton
September: Ross Stretton quit the Royal Ballet
An unknown Rubens painting, The Massacre of the Innocents, sold for 49.5m at Sotheby's in London, smashing the UK auction record for a painting transaction.


Daniel Kitson won the UK's biggest comedy prize, The Perrier Award, for his Edinburgh stand-up show, Something.

Estate agent Max Whatley, 24 and nanny Meg Zakreta, 22, spent a week sprawled naked on a double bed in the window of a London art gallery to promote safe sex.

Disgruntled dancers at London's Royal Ballet held crisis talks with management amid reports they were "fed up" with artistic director Ross Stretton's management style.


Royal Ballet boss Stretton resigned over the row with his artists - after just 13 months in the job.

Sir Peter Blake
October: Sir Peter Blake received his knighthood

The British Museum acknowledged there was "compelling" evidence that valuable works of art in its collection had been looted by Nazis.

Pop artist Sir Peter Blake, best known for his work with The Beatles, received a knighthood from Prince Charles.

Culture minister Kim Howells began - or continued - a national debate about modern art by denouncing the Turner Prize shortlist as "cold, mechanical, conceptual bullshit".

Meanwhile Turner himself went online, as Tate Britain launched a website with an interactive tour of the Turner gallery and introduction to the artist's life and times.

Australian poet Peter Porter won the UK's biggest annual poetry award, the 10,000 Forward Prize, for the first time for his collection Max Is Missing.

The Nobel Prize for Literature went to Imre Kertesz, a Hungarian novelist whose works focus on his experiences in Nazi concentration camps.

Maria Callas
November: Maria Callas' private letters sold
Canadian Yann Martel's surreal fable Life of Pi landed the prestigious Booker Prize and a cheque for 50,000.


Aztecs, an exhibition featuring more than 380 works from the ancient Mexican civilisation, was destined to be the blockbuster of the year as it opened at the Royal Academy.

The Royal Ballet put its troubles behind it to stage a well-received Swan Lake in London.

Private letters revealing opera star Maria Callas' desire for revenge after she was jilted by billionaire Aristotle Onassis sold at auction in Rome for more than 4,000.


Keith Tyson
December: Keith Tyson won the Turner Prize
Artist Keith Tyson won the 20,000 Turner Prize for his scientifically-inspired collection of drawing, painting, sculpture and installation.

Film director Baz Luhrmann's version of Puccini's La Boheme became the first classical opera to be staged on Broadway.

Sophie's Choice, based on the best-selling novel by William Styron, sold out its five-night subsidised run at the Royal Opera House.

Conductor Sir Simon Rattle, National Theatre director Trevor Nunn and composer Nicholas Maw all helped to pull in the crowds.

Looking ahead

Looking back



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