Sunday, December 21, 2008

Wolgin Prize

(Via artblog) The largest art prize of its kind in the world was announced by Temple University a few days ago.

The Jack Wolgin International Competition in the Arts at the Tyler School of Art at Temple University has been established by the real estate developer, banker and philanthropist Jack Wolgin of Philadelphia.

Jack Wolgin, Photo by Kim Sargent

Jack Wolgin, photo by Kim Sargent

According to Tyler, "the winner of the Jack Wolgin International Competition in the Arts will be selected by a jury of internationally renowned professionals in the arts. The largest Prize of it's [sic] kind, the Jack Wolgin Competition in the Arts is open to artists around the world. Complete eligibility rules and the nomination process will be announced by February 1, 2008."

The mission of the competition is to celebrate artistic expression that transcends traditional boundaries. By having the annual competition at the Tyler School of Art, the Prize opens a dialogue among students, the diverse communities of North Philadelphia and the larger art world. In accomplishing its mission, the Prize will inform the world about Philadelphia as a premier city for the arts.

The Prize will be given each year for work that expands artistic expression and exemplifies the highest level of excellence and artistic achievement. Work will be considered in painting, sculpture, drawing, printmaking, photography, ceramics, metals, glass and fibers.

The Competition

$150,000 will be awarded to a professional artist of international stature. Intended to support an artist at a critical professional juncture, the Prize will be highly motivating for the artist, providing great incentive for additional work of impact. The Prize will be awarded after a nomination process with international arts experts. Nominated artists will submit materials for review by an international jury.

The Exhibition

The annual exhibition will celebrate the winner of The Jack Wolgin International Competition in the Arts and will take place at the Tyler School of Art of Temple


General information:
According to the Inquirer, the prize announcement "also coincides with Tyler's impending move from Elkins Park to its new $75 million facility on Temple's campus in North Philadelphia. That facility will be the site of an annual exhibit of the winner's work."

This is great news for visual artists all over the world and even greater good news for the Philadelphia art scene. I will immediately comment that I am hoping that their selection panel will have the cojones to look truly to nominate artists at "a critical professional juncture" and not just xerox out a bunch of names of the usual suspects.

I remember fondly the days when museums like the Whitney and others would take chances on "new" artists, and as a result in the 80s they would give artists their first museum show ever (from memory I think both Fischl and Schnabel got their very first museum show, both while in their 30s, at the Whitney).

The days when museum curators want to be "first" are long gone, and seldom do we see a major museum take a chance with a "first" anymore. The same lack of cojones seems to have infected the major art prizes of the world, and I for one hope that Tyler and its selection jury get some brass into their system and make a statement with this new and generous prize.

No one knows the Philly art scene better than Libby and Roberta, and according to them, "Wolgin... has a history with art that pushes limits and breaks through boundaries," so I suspect that a radical departure from cookie-cutter prizegiving would be attractive to him. Done correctly, the Wolgin Prize can be a catapult for an artist who needs a critical push, rather than a re-affirmation for an already well-known name.

And I second Roberta and Libby's nomination for the inaugural prize: Philly's own Zoe Strauss!

1 comment:

Mark Cameron Boyd said...

Although I applaud the launch of the Wolgin Prize & agree it will be a great "feather in the cap" for Tyler & Philly, I have anxieties about the prize. First, do we really need to award $150K to a single artist? Certainly, everything is costly nowadays & that kind of coin for living expenses, art materials, production & shipping costs might be understandable. Or this a case of "outbidding" the Turner & Hugo Boss prizes? Wouldn’t a better idea be to split the prize into 1st, 2nd & 3rd places, with maybe even a “New Face” award thrown in, too? Second, I worry that lesser-known artist’s will not make a selection committee review because it is right there in the wording of the Wolgin nomination process that they'll be looking for artists of "international stature." It’s impossible to imagine a “first” coming out of that process. "International stature" necessarily involves dealer-collector-art world support, thus, we are almost assured nominations of those "usual suspects." However, I'll try to keep a positive attitude as the prize unfolds & hope for the best.