Malcolm Morley
The Outsider (1989)

A film by Mike Mortimer
Ended 22 May, 2020

Currently On View
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In 1984, Malcolm Morley was the first winner of the Tate Gallery’s prestigious award, the Turner Prize, for the year’s major contribution to British art. It came as something of a surprise because he has always been, by his own volition, an outsider who remains aloof from the art world. From 1957 until his passing in 2018, he lived a reclusive life in America and harboured ambivalent feelings about his native Britain. Characteristically, he was not there to collect his prize.

It is impossible to label him as a painter, as he has always avoided association with the schools and styles of contemporary art, though he seems to have pioneered many of them. Art critic Robert Hughes called him, “the man whose methods have been relentlessly plundered by a generation of artists.” He began painting in the early 1950s, in Wormwood Scrubs, where he was serving a three-year sentence for robbery. In the 1960s, he pioneered photo-realism in America. In the 1980s, he went on to fill huge canvasses with vivid jungle images – exotic figures, strange totems, wild animals.

Malcolm Morley, The Outsider (1989)
A film by Mike Mortimer
53 min, English
RM Arts/BBC Omnibus