Brothers Jake and Dinos Chapman, two of the UK's most controversial modern artists, are among the nominees for this year's Turner Prize.
Jake (right) and Dinos Chapman are the best-known nominees
The shortlist, announced on Thursday, also includes Grayson Perry, a transvestite described as "the Tracey Emin of ceramics", Irish video artist and photographer Willie Doherty and sculptor Anya Gallaccio.
Now in its 20th year, the £20,000 Turner Prize - often criticised for being sensationalist or just poor quality - remains the UK's most talked-about art award.
Last year, culture minister Kim Howells described the nominated artworks as "cold, mechanical, conceptual bullshit".
The Chapman brothers are the best-known of the shortlisted artists, and recently hit the headlines for adding comical and grotesque faces to Goya etchings.
Images and information from this year's shortlist
Their work is often restricted to adult viewings because of its content, and they took part in 1997's Sensation exhibition with dolls with penises instead of noses.
Judges said "their striking sculptural installations and graphic works investigate society's taboos with humour and provocation".
Grayson Perry has been described as "the art world's favourite transvestite" and often arrives at functions dressed as his female alter-ego Claire.
Perry: "The art world's favourite transvestite"
He uses decorative art techniques - such as ceramics and textiles - to take an uncensored look at his own life and social habits.
Fellow nominee Doherty, 44, who witnessed the Bloody Sunday shootings as a 12-year-old, combines art, history and politics and was nominated in 1994.
His works have included news footage of Bloody Sunday mixed with personal accounts, and his images have been praised for giving the Troubles a human touch.
And Gallaccio, 40, is nominated for her recent Birmingham exhibition that included a room made of chocolate and a bronze tree with real apples as well as sculptures made from ice, flowers, sugar and candles.
"She furthered her innovative explorations of the tension between organic and traditional sculptural materials," the judges said.
The director of the Tate and the judging panel, Sir Nicholas Serota, said the jury had come up with "a very interesting shortlist" this year.
"We had an interesting discussion with 12 hours of deliberation," he said.
"There was not an attempt to balance the list in any way."
Sir Nicholas told BBC News 24 he was prepared for media criticism of the choices.
Grayson Perry's work Boring Cool People. Photo: Victoria Miro Gallery
"The tabs will find something to latch onto every year - if it's Grayson's sexuality, so be it," he said.
"It's the 21st century, if we can't shortlist someone who has transvestite interests, then where are we in contemporary society?"
"Our responsibility is to bring what a group of individuals see as the best of and the mist interesting British art, being made by younger artists, in front of the public. Then the public can judge."
Referring to last year's comments by Kim Howells - who he called a "great supporter" of the prize - he said: "The prize has a real body of people who come each year to learn what's been happening - irrespective of comments from the arts minister or anyone else."
The 2002 prize was won by Keith Tyson, whose works included the entire contents of a Kentucky Fried Chicken menu made of lead.
Keith Tyson won the £20,000 Turner Prize in 2002
Past winners have included Gilbert and George, Anish Kapoor, Antony Gormley and Damien Hirst.
The prize is open to any artist under the age of 50 who is either working in the UK or is British and working abroad.
An exhibition of the shortlisted artists' works will be held at Tate Britain in London from 29 October.
The winner will be announced on 7 December.
Your comments on the Turner prize nominees
I gave up the study of art many years ago when I realised that although I had the technical expertise to draw/build, I lacked the immagination to create. Instead, I buy art that doesn't just provoke an emotion but the sense of living in an ongoing story. If I want shocking images, I just have to pick up a tabloid newspaper.
Unfortunately for art in Britain there is a vocal element that believes that provocation is art, but lacks the technical expertise to successfully convey the concept without an explanation or justification.
Let art speak for itself, if it cannot, it is not art.
It seems modern art in the media is based on who you know and what school you attended. Technique can be taught, creativity can't be. Are we all not a little tired of immature stabs at controversy? Maybe the only way to be truely controversial is by deconstructing and mocking the current crop of elitist darlings.
Contemporary art!! You're not meant to take it seriously you know, it's just a laugh. I think the Chapman brothers are hilarious, hope they win.
I don't think anyone should be "shortlisted" or "blacklisted" from the show. You say the only requirements are that you have to be a British Artist. Just because someone has different ideas about who they are, doesn't mean they can't produce art. Look at Andy Warhol, do I need to go on?
Don't shortlist Art! Otherwise you will be next!
I applaud the artists who are on the Turner short-list as well as those who did not make it. Art falls into two categories: dead and irrelevant, and alive and vital. The short-list artists do art that is alive, vital, and sense/thought-provoking. This is what art is.
No matter the subject, no matter the medium, no matter the means, the art must move you in some way - like it, despise it, but be moved.
Cheers for all!
Jake and Dinos Chapman obviously have unusual and creative imaginations. It is a shame that their work shows no talent or skill.
The faces on the Goya etchings remove all the inspiration and feeling the originals had and leave you just wishing you could wipe them clean. Utterly pointless.
They challenge society's taboos?
Being controversial for the sake of it challenges no-one and the areas they choose are barely taboos in today's society. The ground they cover in their latest exhibition is already well worn.
Best of British? I hope not.
Well, it's a slight improvement on the usual dirge they nominate.
We could do with more events like the Turner prize. It is a wonderful showcase for the best comic talent this country has to offer.
Vincent Shaw-Morton, UK
By trade I'm an engineer. I was rubbish at art at school. But what would stop me re-claiming a car from a scrap yard, with blood and bits of bone still stuck in the bodywork, and putting it on display? We could jazz it up a bit by saying it makes people realise what actually happens in road traffic accidents, and that it brings reality home, and even give it a title - The Morning After. Am I an artist now? Fair play to these blaggers though, they are getting fame from realising spur of the moment thoughts, and some suckers actually believe that it's art!
James D, UK
Isn't all art really about the thoughts behind the final piece rather than actually about the skill put into its making? You can teach someone to paint but not to think or see the world in a different way. I hope people judge this exhibition on inspiration and meaning rather than technical. So long as that is the case, feel free to condemn it as much as you wish - just make sure it's for the right reasons.
I quite like those vases; they're beautifully shaped and coloured.
Of course, I'm supposed to like them because the artist is a transvestite (oh! daring!) and they're "about" child abuse.
In its desperation to create something new, the art world has forgotten it is supposed to be creating something beautiful. It's no wonder that popular contempt for the modern art establishment grows every year...
People knocking events like the Turner Awards must have the most tedious minds imaginable. Just because the work produced lies some way beyond the mainstream and often impenetrable to the uninformed observer doesn't mean it is without value or deserving of mockery. I can't pretend to understand a lot of recent pieces submitted for the Turner award at first glance but people should know better than to childishly knock things they don't understand.
Keith Collantine, United Kingdom
Apparently we are all allowed to have uninformed opinions about politics, sex, media, religion and every other field of human endeavour. Except art. Heaven help us if we see rubbish and call it rubbish. Art that needs instruction manuals to be appreciated is not art, in my uninformed opinion. This is about money and careers.
Bob Arrington, US
Question: why the age limit of 50? Are artists over that age incapable of art worthy of the Turner panel's consideration? Or is it simply that they're not likely to be controversial enough?
Jon Green, UK
Inspiration and technical ability are or should be equally important in art. In the past they have been. Now if technical ability means nothing, I could experience the most sublime emotions and inspirational feelings ever felt by anyone, then slop a bit of paint on a wall and by rights win every art prize out there. We now seem to have reached the point where art is whatever anyone wants to call art and the only thing that matters is whether you like it or not. Maybe that is a good point to have reached, maybe not, but it means that competitions and prizes are pointless.
G. Self, Brazil
People, if you are going to make comments, inform yourself. Then you will be able to make intelligent comments on what the artist is doing. And the success or failure thereof. Tell us what you feel when you look at their art. What do you think? What does it remind you of? Why?
Last year's entrants seemed a little more
contemporary and varied. These events and
competitions seem to be run just to stroke the
egos of art critics and rich collectors and to try to
increase the value of their latest investments. If
only they had an idea of how the "public" think and
live. Sad! Is James D from UK going to display any
work because I'd pay to see it.
Yet again we see the art establishment, and those who create controversy to create cash, alienating the "man in the street" with obscure work. When challenged to prove its worth they often claim that the problem is with the viewer for not being "informed" or needing to be "educated" about its merit. Just because someone says that something is "art" does not make it worthy of being displayed. It's the job of the artist to create work that speaks for itself and does not need the viewer to have it explained to them.
Please try and make art that stands on its own and does not need a "handbook" or explanatory note and then you may see the Turner prize taken more seriously by the public.
"I don't know art but I know what I like!" In my uneducated opinion (I think an unmade bed is an unmade bed, not a profound statement on mental health, the environment, the ennui and disposable culture of the 20th century or whatever other nonsense you want to ascribe to it), the problem with art now seems to be that it has become so allegedly conceptual, and often so apparently lacking in actual aesthetic merit, that people are scared to say what they really think.
Anyone who says something isn't very good gets accused of being unimaginative, or a killjoy. I still prefer Turner and Dali to a nice vase. Woolworths do quite nice vases.
Paul H, England
How do you get nominated for a Turner Prize?
There is a terrific amount of good art out there in the UK that goes unrecognised year after year. What elitist circle must you move in to get even the slightest chance? There are probably much better artists out there who would knock your socks off with their art but refuse to get involved in the petty art institution circles. Turner Prize? Baa Humbug.
The Turner list. It's an opportunity to bring the art world to people who otherwise don't have art in their life. You don't have to agree with the list...If you don't like what's nominated, delve elsewhere and find something that really gets you. I just found Vettriano.
For people who wax eloquent about the artists shortlisted for the Turner: ask yourself whether its the art that speaks to you or the notoriety of the artist that appeals to you. I really don't see 'high thought' in any of these concepts; just trash that can easily fool people into defining it as art.
When I was one of the three naughtiest girls in the school about thirty years ago, we caused quite a stir (not to mention hopes for our rehabilitation) with a series of "art works". For one, we randomly slapped down our palms, each painted a different colour, onto a piece of paper, and called it 'Bovver'. It looked good, it had a message, but the only kind of artists we were was p*** artists.
A lot of art, whether classical or modern, needs explaining to the uninitiated, but surely the best provokes some thoughts and/or emotional reaction in a manner you know you could not yourself have achieved. That's what distinguishes artists from the immature and angry to whom confrontation is where it begins and ends.
When I read about these competitions, I shudder at the elitist notion that a handful of judges should decide who gets public exposure and public funding -- especially such highly visible exposure and funding as the Turner Prize.
Then, of course, there is the "system" we have here in the US, where every artist gets to compete for private funding and public recognition through an unorganised system of PR specialists, spin-doctors, blind luck and raw sex. And oh yes, a bit of public gambling.
Heads you win, tails you lose - maybe what we need is an international mega-lottery. It would make at least as much sense as the world we live in today.
If that's talent, I'm glad I haven't got any.
It's odd, but a patient is rarely called upon to provide critical comment on the work of a surgeon. The surgeon's peers, and other experts in his or her field might be expected to provide useful critical insight, but not a patient (beyond the "thanks for making me better"). So why do the general public, who have not been educated in art for four years (standard foundation +BA), six years (foundation+BA+MA) or nine/ten years (to doctorate level) feel that their untutored opinion on art should be critically valid and accepted as such by artists and other arts professionals?
Some art has general appeal, some does not - but public approval is not now and never has been what identifies a work as being art. Get over it.
Dear Lola, hmm..All art made currently is contemporary (regardless of intent). Some art is self-consciously "contemporary" and is best described as academic. The very fact that you yourself describe the general public as "untutored" would seem to back my theory. Whilst I think your mailing is an excellent example of the mental gymnastics and sense of superiority that's needed to "get" this art, it also demonstrates the shortsightedness of its practitioners.
1) I have the qualifications you think are so important in both fine art and art history and I say their Emperor is naked. 2) Turner, despite being alive during photography, was an innovative painter. If he was around today he would not even be a Turner nominee. 3) Your notion that art does not need public approval is not born out by history. Saatchi's minions will need a future viewing public in public museums if their art is to have any lasting relevance. Get off your high horse!
I don't like the Mona Lisa. I think it's a bit dull, not terribly well painted and uninspiring. The fact that I don't like it doesn't mean it isn't art though, nor that it shouldn't be taken seriously: I don't like Emin's My Bed either but my taste in art is just that - MY taste, which I have no right to impose on everybody else. If you don't like contemporary art, then just go to a different gallery. You have every right to say and choose what you like, but that doesn't make everybody whose tastes differ from yours wrong and stupid.
Scott Berry, UK