On December 4th, at Art Basel Miami Beach, some of the top names in the art world chose French born, NY-based artist Camille Henrot as recipient of the inaugural “Edward Munch Art Award.”
This newly launched biennial prize, administered by the Munch Museum, is awarded to a visual artist of any nationality who is at the start of his or her career, no more than 40 years old, and who has proven to be exceptionally talented during the preceding five years. The judges, appointed by the Director of The Munch Museum in Oslo, Norway included: Alfred Pacquement, Carolyn Christov-Bakargiev, Robert Storr, Hou Hanru and Solveig Ovstebo. Each judge nominated three artists, and the winner was chosen from that list.
Artist Edvard Munch, most known for his iconic painting “The Scream” (1893) was actually a very prolific painter and printmaker. The Munch Museum of Art alone holds over 1,100 paintings, close to 18,000 prints, and 7,500 of his drawings and watercolors. His deeply evocative and psychological and symbolic works influenced the German Expressionists and a generation of others. This award was created to recognize the artist’s lasting legacy.
Upon winning the award Henrot said, “It is with great pleasure and honour that I receive the Edvard Munch Art Award. My art is created out of unresolved problems, I believe this was also true for Edvard Munch. Works of art are substitutes for changing what we cannot control.”
Born in Paris in 1978, Henrot’s diverse artistic practices, which span video, painting, and sculpture, have been getting a lot of notice in recent years. She currently has a solo show at Metro Pictures in New York City, up now through December 12. This self-titled exhibit includes a room of whimsically shaped phones, which guide the listener through a set of ridiculous thoughts and questions. These hotlines parody a frustration with authority yet at the same time, demonstrate our willingness to subject ourselves to rule. There are also colorfully sweet, but disturbingly gruesome large watercolor paintings of anthropomorphic animal figures engaged in abusive acts. The finale however, is a birthday cake-like model entitled “Horoscope,” a whirling sculptural zoetrope which, once it gets really whirling suddenly becomes a claymation-like encounter featuring leg lifting ladies and weightlifting muscle men, genuflecting figures under emptying pill bottles and orbiting planets. It’s brilliant!
In 2013 Camille Henrot was awarded the Silver Lion at the 55th Venice Biennale for most promising young artist for her film “Grosse Fatigue,” which she created while in residence in Washington D.C. as recipient of the Smithsonian Artist Research Fellowship. Now on view at the Museum of Modern Art, this addicting and idiosyncratic 13 minute film explores various creations myths, through a dizzying display of modern and ancient artifacts and images which open and close in windows on the screen, set against a hip hop beat and spoken word poetry on the origins of life, in some ways taking aim at the history and science of anthropological collections.
As for the award, Henrot goes on to explain, “For me this recognition is important because it encourages me to take more risks. It is a great encouragement for me that I have been chosen by the very prestigious jury for an award that has been created to honour the memory of a great artist – someone whose work connected to the deepest and most essential aspect of human nature.”
The award ceremony, celebrating Henrot, will be held this weekend, on Munch’s birthday, December 12th, in Oslo, Norway. Camille Henrot’s solo show is on view at Metro Pictures until December 12. She has upcoming exhibitions scheduled at the Palais de Tokyo, Paris; the Hammer Museum, Los Angeles; and Fondazione Memmo, Rome.
In order to accommodate an increasing number of visitors and showcase more of its contemporary art collection, the Munch Museum will move to a new building designed by Spanish architects Herreros Arquitectos in 2020. As it expands into its new space, it is also developing its programming and artistic profile. The Edvard Munch Art Award is one of several such initiatives.
-Writing by Kristine Roome