Each year a substantial prize of over £40,000 is given to one artist and for many years it has been one of the largest awards in Europe. The awards have been presented in many different European countries, often in important museums. An international jury including museum directors, art historians, art critics and artists will make a decision at the beginning of the exhibition who should be awarded the prize. The only constitutional condition from the Foundation is that the artists should be practising and under 35 years old as the idea of the prize is to help an artist financially in the more formative years.
Friedrich Vordemberge-Gildewart, who was born 1899 and died 1962, was a member of a number of important groups such as de Stijl, where he worked with artists such as Piet Mondrian and Theo van Doesburg. The Vordemberge-Gildewart Foundation was founded nearly 40 years ago in 1977 by his widow Ilse Engelina Vordemberge, née Leda, who wanted very much for this award to be there to help young artists in the name of her husband and his teachings and therefore set up this foundation before her death.
This year’s prize has been curated by Richard Grayson. Grayson states:
“What directed my thinking in this particular iteration was a consideration of practices that in one way or another inflect or reflect the technological innovations that are shaping our culture. This seems to me in concordance with the approaches and practices of Vordemberge-Gilderwart himself who, as an artist made work the conception of which was inflected by the technologies of his time, the machine, and the way that the industrial was shaping ways the world might be imagined. … In his case this took him into the direction of “Absolute Art" a pure modernist abstraction that increasingly excluded reference to the outside world. In today's context, digital innovations seem to lead more towards a hybridity rather than a purity so the artists represented here all elide codes and combine approaches. Not all of the works make reference to the digital realm but all of the works mix codes and cross definitions and indexes. The artists are generating new and innovative hybrids that are shaped by or reflect, the complex operations of these technologies and their wider play on our worlds and our imaginations.”
Artists nominated for the 2016 prize include:
Aaron Angell, Iain Ball, Oliver Beer, Beth Collar, Laura Eldret, Jamie Fitzpatrick, Patrick Goddard, Joey Holder, Marguerite Humeau, Lawrence Lek, Rebecca Molloy, Athena Papadopoulos, Viktor Timofeev.
A fully illustrated catalogue will be available.