For 25 years it has been at the forefront of Britain’s contemporary art movement, throwing up strange installations, and works that were once memorably described by a culture minister as “cold, mechanical, conceptual bullshit”.

But the Turner Prize celebrated the quarter century of controversy by announcing a shortlist of artists who have been chosen for skills that, say some commentators, would have been recognised in any period of art history.

The shortlisted are: Enrico David, 43, a figurative painter of the human body; Richard Wright, 49, a “thinking person’s graffiti artist” who paints decorative patterns on walls and ceilings; Lucy Skaer, 34, who makes drawings based on photographs; and Roger Hiorns, 34, who once filled a bedsit with 90,000 litres of liquid copper sulphate.

Jonathan Jones, one of the judges, denied that the list represented a return to traditional values: “For God’s sake, don’t say that,” he said at Tuesday’s launch, ever mindful of the prize’s proud tradition of producing ground-breaking art.

This year’s exhibition opens in October, with the winner announced in December.

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