Entertainment & Arts

Malcolm Morley: Artist who won the first Turner Prize dies at 86

Malcolm Morley Image copyright Getty Images
Image caption Morley received prize money of £10,000 for the inaugural Turner Prize

Artist Malcolm Morley, who was the first winner of the Turner Prize in 1984, has died at the age of 86.

His gallery Xavier Hufkens described him as "one of the seminal figures of international contemporary art".

Morley was born in London and began painting while serving a prison sentence for breaking and entering.

He moved to New York in 1958 and made his name with bright photorealistic works based on subjects from Old Master paintings to travel brochures.

He won £10,000 as the inaugural winner of the Turner Prize, the UK's leading contemporary art award, beating Gilbert and George, Howard Hodgkin, Richard Deacon and Richard Long.

It proved to be a controversial start for the prize - Morley was said to have described the notion of pitting artists against each other as a "blood sport".

'Enormously influential'

And some thought the award shouldn't have gone to someone who had been based outside the UK for so long.

But he won for a retrospective at the Whitechapel Gallery in London that had been staged the previous year, which the Tate Gallery's modern art curator Richard Francis said at the time was "enormously influential".

He added: "There's a sense that the art world has changed as a result of that exhibition."

Morley died in Bellport, New York, according to Xavier Hufkens.

"Thank you, Malcolm, for your captivating art that broke new ground, your unique character, your exceptional knowledge and your friendship," the gallery wrote on Instagram.

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