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10 Art Prizes Shaping the Art Industry

The art industry, like any other thriving and dynamic industry, is constantly striving for excellence and innovation. To acknowledge and celebrate the outstanding contributions of its members, the industry bestows several prestigious awards that not only motivate and challenge the existing standards, but also honour and recognize those who are making significant progress. Among the numerous awards and prizes that are given in the industry, we have curated a list of 10 distinguished awards that are propelling the art industry to higher levels.

  1. Turner Prize

The Turner Prize, turning 40 this year, was founded by a group called the Patrons of New Art under the directorship of Alan Bowness to encourage wider interest in contemporary art and assist Tate in acquiring new works. It is renowned as the most prestigious award in the British art world. 

Anish Kapoor with his 1992 Turner Prize installation  © Tate Photography, Marcus Leith
Anish Kapoor with his 1992 Turner Prize installation © Tate Photography, Marcus Leith

Named after the radical painter J.M.W. Turner, who challenged the conventions of his time, the prize celebrates the diversity and creativity of contemporary art in Britain and beyond. The Turner Prize is awarded annually to a British artist, based on an outstanding exhibition or presentation of their work. The shortlisted artists are exhibited at Tate Britain or another venue outside London, where the public can see and judge their work for themselves. The winner receives £25,000, while the other nominees receive £10,000 each. The most recent winners of the Turner Prize include Veronica Ryan, Array Collective, Charlotte Prodger, Lubaina Himid, and Helen Marten.

  1. ArtPrize

Fifteen years ago, ArtPrize was established as an open, independent, and international art competition, aiming to foster a sense of connection, belonging, and wonder through creativity and fellowship. The competition captures the attention of art enthusiasts and the general public alike and takes place every fall in Grand Rapids, Michigan, featuring public voting, substantial prizes, and massive crowds, while creating a dynamic platform for artistic expression and engaging discussions. The ArtPrize awards over $400,000 directly to artists through both popular and juried voting and distributes over $200,000 in annual grants to support the ambitious work of eligible participating Artists. Past winners include Anila Quayyum Agha, who made ArtPrize history in 2014 by winning Grand Prizes from both the public and a jury.

  1. Hugo Boss Prize

With an exceptional list of awardees, such as Matthew Barney, Douglas Gordon, Marjetica Potrč, Pierre Huyghe, Rirkrit Tiravanija, Tacita Dean, Emily Jacir, Simone Leigh, and Deana Lawson, the Hugo Boss Prize honours outstanding achievements in contemporary art, celebrating the work of remarkable artists whose practices are among the most innovative and influential of our time. Established in 1996 with no restrictions on age, gender, nationality, or medium, the prize is juried by an international panel of distinguished museum directors, curators, and critics. The Solomon R. Guggenheim Foundation administers it and carries an award of $100,000.

  1. Sobey Art Award

The Sobey Art Award is regarded as one of the world’s most generous prizes for contemporary artists. It has been championing visual arts in Canada since its first award in 2002. Each year, a jury composed of one distinguished representative from each of Canada’s five regions — the Atlantic Provinces, Quebec, Ontario, the Prairies and the North, and the West Coast and Yukon — in addition to one international juror oversees the selection process. Its 2023 award saw a total of $400,000 in prize money awarded. Past winners have included Brian Jungen, Annie Pootoogook, Nadia Myre, Ursula Johnson, Kapwani Kiwanga, and Stephanie Comilang.

Tomma Abts receiving the 2006 prize from Yoko Ono © Ralf Marriot
Tomma Abts receiving the 2006 prize from Yoko Ono © Ralf Marriot

  1. MacArthur Fellowship

The MacArthur Fellows Program is intended to encourage people of outstanding talent to pursue their own creative, intellectual, and professional inclinations. The program follows three selection criteria: exceptional creativity, promise for important future advances based on a track record of significant accomplishments, and potential for the fellowship to facilitate subsequent creative work. In keeping with this purpose, the Foundation awards fellowships directly to individuals rather than through institutions. Each fellowship comes with an award of $800,000 to the recipient, paid out in equal quarterly instalments over five years. Recipients may be writers, scientists, artists, social scientists, humanists, teachers, entrepreneurs, or those in other fields, who may use their fellowship to advance their expertise, engage in bold new work, or, if they wish, to change fields or alter the direction of their careers. Some of the past fellows include Jordan Casteel, a painter; Chris Thile, a mandolinist and composer; and Deborah Jin, a physicist.

  1. Deutsche Börse Photography Foundation Prize

The Deutsche Börse Photography Foundation Prize is an annual award for a living artist of any nationality who has made a significant contribution to the medium of photography in Europe in the previous year, either through an exhibition or a publication. The prize, established in 1996 by The Photographers’ Gallery in London, showcases the works of artists who shape the international photography scene and highlight its contemporary trends. Since 2015, the prize which is worth £30,000 has been presented by the Deutsche Börse Photography Foundation, a partner of The Photographers’ Gallery, under its new title. Some of the past winners include Samuel Fosso, Cao Fei, Mohamed Bourouissa, and Susan Meiselas.

  1. Future Generation Art Prize

The Future Generation Art Prize is a biennial global contemporary art prize that aims to discover, recognize and support a future generation of artists. The prize was established in 2009 by the Victor Pinchuk Foundation and has supported the artistic development and production of new works of over 100 artists in exhibitions at the PinchukArtCentre in Kyiv and at the Venice Biennale as official collateral events in 2011, 2013, 2017 and 2019. 

Future Generation Art Prize 2019 winners © PinchukArtCentre.
Future Generation Art Prize 2019 winners © PinchukArtCentre.

The prize is open to all artists aged 35 or younger from anywhere in the world, working in any medium. An outstanding selection committee, appointed by a distinguished international jury, reviews every application and nominates 20 artists for the shortlist. These artists are commissioned to create new works that are displayed at the PinchukArtCentre in Kyiv. They also present their works in the Future Generation Art Prize exhibition at the Venice Biennale. The 2023/24 shortlist includes several African artists, such as Sinzo Aanza from Congo, Yasmine El Meleegy from Egypt, Salim Bayri from Morocco, Nolan Dennis and Buhlebezwe Siwani from South Africa.

  1. The Marcel Duchamp Prize 

The Duchamp Prize, created in 2000 by Gilles Fuchs, the founder and president of ADIAF, is a collectors’ prize that aims to highlight the creative abundance of the French scene at the beginning of the 21st century and to support artists in their international careers. The prize is named after the influential artist Marcel Duchamp, who challenged the conventions of his time, and is supported by the Marcel Duchamp Association. The prize is awarded annually to one of four French artists or artists living in France, working in the field of plastic and visual arts, such as installation, video, painting, photography, sculpture, performance and so on. The prize encourages new artistic forms that stimulate creation and represent the most significant artists of their generation. It has honoured 85 artists, laureates and nominees, who have become true ambassadors of the French scene over the years. Some of the most recent laureates include Tarik Kiswanson, Mimosa Echard, Lili Reynaud Dewar, Kapwani Kiwanga and Éric Baudelaire.

  1. Bucksbaum Award

The Bucksbaum Award is an eminent award for an artist featured in the Whitney Biennial, the leading exhibition of contemporary American art. The award, established in 2000 by the Whitney Museum of American Art alongside trustee Melva Bucksbaum and her family, recognizes an artist whose work shows a unique combination of talent and imagination, and who has the potential to make a lasting impact on the history of American art. The award comes with a check for $100,000 and celebrates the creative vision and contributions of extraordinary artists to the contemporary art scene. The Bucksbaum Award is given in each Biennial year, based on the selection of a jury of experts. Past winners include Ralph Lemon, Tiona Nekkia McClodden, Pope.L, Zoe Leonard, Sarah Michelson, and Michael Asher. The award not only honours individual artists, but also fosters a broader appreciation and understanding of contemporary art forms, inspiring and encouraging creativity, and enriching our cultural experiences.

  1. Kyoto Prize

The Kyoto Prize is a global award of Japanese origin, given to individuals who have made outstanding achievements in the fields of basic sciences and advanced technology, as well as the arts and philosophy. It is an internationally acclaimed award that was established by Kazuo Inamori, who wished to “contribute to the advancement of the future of humanity while balancing the development of science and civilization and the enrichment of the human spirit.” Each laureate receives a diploma, a Kyoto Prize medal, and prize money of 100 million yen per category. The art category includes Music, Arts (Painting, Sculpture, Craft, Architecture, Photography, Design, etc.), Theatre, and Cinema. Some of the Kyoto Prize art laureates are Nalini Malani, Joan Jonas, Fukumi Shimura, William Kentridge, and Issey Miyake. 

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