Tonight is the night. After months of speculation, the winner of the £25,000 ($39,079) Turner Prize will be announced by celebrity photographer Mario Testino at 8:15 p.m. Greenwich Mean Time during a ceremony at BALTIC Center for Contemporary Art, Gateshead.
Martin Boyce is the 11-to-10 bookie favorite, shortly followed by George Shaw at 13-to-8. The women are this year's outsiders with both Karla Black and Hilary Lloyd at a meager 6-to-1.
Boyce's work is definitely the crowdpleaser of the lot. Replete with references to modernist designs, his sleek installations are formally satisfying and very much in tune with contemporary art's current revisitation of the great artistic revolutions of the 20th century.
Shaw is playing the "real Britain" card. His bleak depictions of urban landscapes around the Coventry council estate where he grew up echo the depression gripping the country as recession settles in. Even Guardian art critic Adrian Searle has fallen for the dystopian charm of Shaw's enamel paintings. "I think Shaw should win," he wrote last October. "He gives us the world we live in."
But we shouldn't neglect the underdogs — if only because they often tend to clinch the coveted prize in the end (see Susan Phillipsz last year). Black's delicate installation composed of sugar paper, soap, and pigment at the Scottish Pavilion was one of the highlights of this year's Venice Biennale.
Lloyd's experimental filmmaking offers an enticing abstracted vision of the real. She doesn't give us the world we live in, but reinvents it. This alone makes her a strong candidate for the winner's circle.
Joe Crilly, a spokesman for High Street bookmakers William Hill, remains circumspect. "What is noticeable about this year’s Turner Prize is that all the artists have their own styles and are all very different from previous winners," he said to ArtLyst. "Any one of the four could realistically win the £25,000 prize."