Prize & price: The Turner Prize as a valuation device in the contemporary art market

Pierre Pénet, Kangsan Lee

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


High prices garnered by British contemporary artists are often presented as a problem of valuation. This article seeks to connect the rapid ascent of British contemporary artists to the emergence and institutionalization of the Turner Prize, today's most prestigious art award. Although prizes and awards proliferate in fields of cultural production, little academic research has investigated their implications for artists' careers and trajectories. Combining a detailed, qualitative description of the institutionalization of the Turner Prize with a quantitative investigation of its influence on auction prices, we find that British contemporary artists' unusual valuation pattern (fast market ascension and hastened, rather than "deferred," commercial success) largely results from a different relation between value and price rooted in the Turner Prize's three innovative valuation mechanisms: brokerage, deliberation, and institutional labeling.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)149-171
Number of pages23
Issue number1
StatePublished - Apr 2014


  • Art market
  • Art prizes
  • Market devices
  • Valuation mechanisms

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Cultural Studies
  • Language and Linguistics
  • Communication
  • Sociology and Political Science
  • Linguistics and Language
  • Literature and Literary Theory


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