Edvard Munch Art Award returns after 10-year hiatus

Norwegian contemporary art award returns with a revamped edition.

The Edvard Munch Art Award has announced its return in late 2015 at the Munch Museum in Oslo, with a renewed structure providing prize money, a guest residency and an exhibition for the winner, as well as a broader scope including art from Asian countries.

Edvard Munch photographed in his open-air studio at Skrubben, 1911. Photo: A.F. Johansen. From the Munch Museum archive. Image courtesy the Munch Museum.

Edvard Munch photographed in his open-air studio at Skrubben, 1911. Photo: A.F. Johansen. From the Munch Museum archive. Image courtesy the Munch Museum.

The Edvard Munch Art Award is set to return in 2015 after a hiatus of almost ten years. The Award aims to facilitate exchange in international contemporary art, as well as highlight and recognise the significance and influence of the Norwegian Modern master Edvard Munch (1863-1944).

Awarded for the first time on the artist’s birthday on 12 December, the revamped biennial prize will include a reward of NOK500,000 (USD66,000), a guest residency in Oslo and an exhibition of the winner’s work at the Munch Museum. The Award is funded by the Norwegian Ministry of Foreign Affairs and presented by the Munch Museum in partnership with Statoil – Norway’s oil and gas multinational, which provides the prize money – and Stiftelsen Edvard Munchs Atelier.

Statoil, which had its own art award, will be now concentrating on providing support and resources for the newly reinstated Edvard Munch Art Award. The company’s vice president of media relations Jannik Lindbæk said:

We intend for this to be a highly regarded award that will support artists in developing their talent to create great art.

A broader scope, expanding East

The director of the Munch Museum, Stein Olav Henrichsen, was quoted by The Art Newspaper as saying that the budget for the next ten years of the award has been secured, and that he wants a jury composed of international experts

with knowledge on the art scene in China, India and other Eastern countries. It is very important not to focus too much on Europe and the US when looking for candidates.

Portrait of Edvard Munch, 1926. Photo: Krameyer, Wiesbaden. From the Munch Museum archive. Image courtesy the Munch Museum.

Portrait of Edvard Munch, 1926. Photo: Krameyer, Wiesbaden. From the Munch Museum archive. Image courtesy the Munch Museum.

Meanwhile, international Munch expert and curator Dieter Buchhart is delighted to see the rebirth of the Award honouring the Norwegian master, but thinks that it should include a main award as well as one for an up-and-coming artist. He comments, as quoted by The Art Newspaper:

the problem with such prizes is that, in order to make it known, an established artist has to receive it, but less well-known artists need it more.

Nevertheless, the return of the Award is welcomed with great expectation. OCA’s new director since 2014, Katya García-Antón, told The Art Newspaper that “it is good to see that the award will have a continuation.”

The Award’s history

Originally called “Edvard Munch Award for Contemporary Art”, the prize was initiated and developed in 2004-2005 by OCA, the Office for Contemporary Art Norway, a foundation created by the Norwegian Ministries of Culture and of Foreign Affairs to develop cultural collaboration projects between Norway and the international arts scene. The Award was founded while curator Ute Meta Bauer was Director of OCA and was awarded only during her tenure – two editions, in 2005 and 2006. When Marta Kuzma became the head of OCA, the prize disappeared without any explanation.

Previous award winners are German artist, writer and curator Alice Creischer (2006), and Indian artist and filmmaker Amar Kanwar (2005).

C. A. Xuan Mai Ardia

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