Madonna f-bombs the Turner Prize

23rd June 2022

What is it about the Turner Prize, live TV, and Illuminations? Tracey Emin walked off during Is Painting Dead? which aired live after the 1997 Turner Prize and then in 2001 Madonna dropped an f-bomb of the mother variant at the end of her presentation speech. She awarded the Turner Prize to Martin Creed for his controversial installation “Work No. 227: The lights going on and off”. A few days later painter and ‘genuine artist’ Jacqueline Crofton hurled eggs at it in protest, only to receive a life ban from all Tate galleries. 

Illuminations filmed the Turner Prize from 1993 – 2005 and while the prize has had an illustrious array of award givers there have been none more high profile than Madonna. Her speech was on her own uneasiness with artistic prizes and with prizing one artist’s work over another’s. The artists were all winners in Madonna’s eyes. She would later explain that her outburst was partially a response to Tate wanting to check her speech beforehand, with Madonna saying, “The real reason is, and this is my perverse sense of humour, that they wanted to read my speech. I got pissed off with them. Then I just got insulted when they told me not to swear.”  It was also because had wanted to be referred to as “Mrs Richie” but had been told this wouldn’t be possible. Her husband at the time was director, Guy Richie.

There was a vain attempt to bleep out the swearword but there’s no doubt that it was audible. Channel 4 issued an apology as it had been broadcast prior to the 9pm watershed. Madonna remained defiant, telling CNN, “As if no one says that word. It’s a cutting edge, contemporary award. People expect that sort of behaviour from me.”

As for Illuminations, once again we were in hot water with the broadcaster and so on our 40th anniversary we give you Madonna and her ‘motherfucker’

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