Thursday, August 26, 2010

West Prize 2011 is underway

Above is 2010 West Prize winner Ryan Mclennan's piece 'Departure'


The West Collection is an art collection privately owned and administrated by Alfred P. West and his daughter Paige West. Recently in an effort to expand museum holdings/garner new talent/subsidize poor-creative-types the collection is holding an open call for new artists. The competition will award 10 artists (in acquisition funds for work) $10,000 each, with one grant winner also receiving $25,000 for a proposal probably presented via one kick-ass powerpoint presentation. This competition is, at two years running, incredibly new.

Actually in a way it is and it isn't.

Right off the bat, rich people collecting art isn't exactly new. Thank god it isn't, the wealthy have been and continue to be awesome lifelines for a lot of great artists who would otherwise be selling their bodies to get money to buy pencils (crack pencils). However, in an art environment with less and less significance attributed to "critical authority" it's the market that determines artistic merit. Meaning rich curators have the hugest say right now in determining what is "good art" and subsequently what art gets funded/seen. That means if moneyed collectors don't know what they're doing they can consecrate crap, shit-up the careers of promising artists, and destabilize market value. That's how it's not new.

Alfred (Al) West, founder and CEO of SEI Investment Co. is a self made billionaire. Billionaire. Daughter Paige is a full time art curator and author, with both studio and arts administration training, and apparently really is the force behind the collection. Meaning no disinterested-commodities-broker-hiring-art-buyers-to-diversify-their-investment-holdings-with-art type situation. Also, they stock their investment company's offices with artwork, and force the employees to deal with it/suck it. These are exactly the kind of rich, informed, engaged fucking lunatics you want at the helm of something like this. That's how it is new.

I'm not particularly nuts for all of the work that the Wests seem to be focused on, a lot of the 2-D work especially, which seems to be acutely aware of the amount of Whimsy and Idiosyncrasy that Contemporary Art has to have. This may just be a feature of the current self-fulfilling market for those sort of pieces. The sculpture, video, photography, and installation seem more on-point. The Art Blog has a great write-up of last years competition, they are as usual, spot on.

That having been said there's also clearly a point of view to the collection, they obviously know what they want. There's a lot of emphasis on the environment, of consumption (conspicuous and otherwise), on nature vs. city living, etc. Having perused the current entries I encourage all artists and artistically minded crazy people to apply. The rolls close Novermber 1st, 2010, and finalists are announced January 1st, 2011.

Enter the competition here

So tailor your work and get to it! Crazy prize money and glory await!


Post a Comment