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Jeff Koons, Others Celebrate Victor Pinchuk’s Future Generation Art PrizeSource: Wall Street Journal. Author: Kate Taylor. Published on December 9th, 2009
Victor Pinchuk, the richest man in Ukraine, with a fortune of $2.6 billion, held a party at the Gramercy Park Hotel last night to announce his new Future Generation Art Prize, which will be awarded every two years to an artist 35 years-old or younger. The top prize winner will receive $100,000 ($40,000 of which must go toward the production of new work), while up to five other winners will receive residencies or other forms of support.
Demonstrating Pinchuk’s clout as a collector, the board of his new prize is a who’s who of art-world heavy-hitters: fellow collectors Eli Broad and Dakis Joannou; Elton John; Miuccia Prada; and museum directors Richard Armstrong, of the Solomon R. Guggenheim Foundation and Museum; Glenn Lowry, of the Museum of Modern Art; Alfred Pacquement, of the Centre Georges Pompidou; and Nicholas Serota, of the Tate. Pinchuk also convinced four superstar artists whose work he collects — Damien Hirst, Jeff Koons, Takashi Murakami, and Andreas Gursky — to serve as mentors to the prizewinners.
But, for an international prize that is intended, as Pinchuk said last night, to be “democratic,” the list is oddly limited. There is only a single woman on the board (and none among the mentors), and Murakami is the only non-American or European. In terms of artistic practice, three of the four mentors are artists who function essentially as brands, running workshops/factories with dozens of assistants. (Gursky is the exception, and his humble, soft-spoken manner last night — admitting at one point that he was looking forward to the dialogue with young artists, because in his normal life, he only talks about art with two or three friends — suggested he was an exception in other ways, as well.)
Giving this kind of award to a young artist could be extremely important. Koons noted that for a struggling young person the prize could be “a lifeline.”
But why not have a Kathy Halbreich on the board, or a Rachel Whiteread among the mentors? Such issues were little remarked upon by last night’s guests, who also included Broad, Armstrong, former ArtBasel honcho Sam Keller, and art dealers Larry Gagosian and Jay Jopling.
Koons, in his remarks, stressed “community.” Asked if he would offer the young artists any business or career advice, the brilliant careerist said, “The only advice you can offer someone is to commit yourself fully to your work. If you do that, everything else automatically follows. People will want to give you a platform.”
Broad, in conversation, confirmed reports that he will choose among Santa Monica, Beverly Hills, and “one other city” to locate a museum for his 2,000-piece collection. He was also eager to boast about the progress that has been made at the Museum of Contemporary Art in Los Angeles since he stepped in to save it from financial trouble last year with a donation of $30 million.
He said the museum, which is being run on an interim basis by former U.C.L.A. chancellor Charles Young, will appoint a new director in January or February. Ten candidates have been interviewed so far in New York and Miami, he said, adding: “Everyone wants this job.”
Meanwhile, at an off-the-record location elsewhere downtown — i.e., the fabulous loft of an artist who did not want the publicity — Rolex celebrated the selection of the six people who will serve as mentors in the 2010-2011 cycle of the company’s Mentor and Protégé Arts Initiative. They are: Trisha Brown (dance), Brian Eno (music), Anish Kapoor (visual art), Peter Sellars (theater), Zhang Yimou (film), and Hans Magnus Enzensberger (literature). Each mentor will select a protégé from a group of finalists in the spring and then spend the year advising him or her.