Pinchuk Prize Shortlist Shortchanges Americans

Oligarch Victor Pinchuk's eponymous Kiev-based foundation announced the shortlist for the first Future Generation Art Prize.

Across my desk…

Oligarch Victor Pinchuk’s eponymous Kiev-based foundation announced the shortlist for the first Future Generation Art Prize.

Victor Pinchuk.

The winner will get $60,000 in cash and $40,000 toward production of new work. The foundation describes the initiative as “a major new international competition for artists up to 35 to discover and provide long-term support for a generation of emerging artists, wherever they may live and work.” But evidently a subtext is to reduce the prominence of American artists. The open call resulted in more than 6,000 applications from 125 countries that a seven-member selection committee pared down to 21 artists from 18 countries, but only one candidate is from the U.S. – Ruben Ochoa, 35, from Los Angeles. Europe accounts for 10 artists — perhaps suggesting Pinchuk’s political leanings — with another 3 from South America, 2 from the Middle East, and 1 each from Africa and Asia. In addition to Ochoa there is another North American, Gareth Moore, 35, from Canada. Geographic diversity is a laudably progressive aim, but the effort is undercut by the preponderence of Europeans to the exclusion of Americans. The complete list is here.

Among the contenders are Nathalie Djurberg, 32, the Swedish claymation artist whose terrifically entertaining sexually peverse videos have become a staple of the international circuit, and Wilfredo Prieto Garcia, 32, a Cuban whose work at the 2003 Havana Biennial was a row of 30 international flags outside the barracks where the exhibition was held.

Wilfredo Prieto Garcia's Apolitico, 2003, installed in Paris.

The flags were accurate in design, but rendered in black, grey and white, chronmatically uniting the disparate nations. An exhibition of shortlisted artists opens at the PinchukArtCentre on October 29, then a jury – the seven members include Robert Storr, Ai Wei Wei, Okwui Enwezor and others – will choose a winner with the award ceremony in Kiev on December 10, 2010.

Pinchuk, 49, is number 307 on Forbes‘ billionaire list, reportedly worth  $3.1 billion. Son-in-law of a former Ukrainian president, he retired from Ukraine’s Parliament in 2006 to focus on his businesses — oil pipes, investment, and media — and to establish his foundation, which supports Ukrainian projects in education, health and human rights, is a major collector  of contemporary art, listed among the ARTnews 200 top collectors. his financial clout enabled him to assemble a group of art advisors to his foundation that includes artist celebrities Damien Hirst, Jeff Koons, Takashi Murakami and Andreas Gursky, as well as museum directors  Nicholas Serota (Tate), Glenn Lowry (MoMA),  Richard Armstrong (Guggenheim), Alfred Pacquement (Centre Pompidou), and fellow collectors such as fashion maven Miuccia Prada, musician Elton John, construction magnate Dakis Joannou, and Eli Broad, who was likely instrumental in getting Pinchuk to join the board of the Los Angeles Museum of Contemporary Art.

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Jason Edward Kaufman is an art historian and critic with expertise in museums and the international art world.

A complete list of past articles is available here.

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