Cathy Wilkes Nabs First Maria Lassnig Prize for Mid-Career Artists

This year's award comes with a major solo show at MoMA PS1.

Cathy Wilkes, installation view at Lentos Kunstmuseum, Linz, 2015. Courtesy of the Artist and The Modern Institute/ Toby Webster Ltd., Glasgow. Photo: Reinhard Haider.
Cathy Wilkes, installation view at Lentos Kunstmuseum, Linz, 2015. Courtesy of the Artist and The Modern Institute/ Toby Webster Ltd., Glasgow. Photo: Reinhard Haider.

The Scottish artist Cathy Wilkes is the winner of the inaugural edition of the Maria Lassnig Prize.

The award—which comes with a €50,000 ($53,000) cash prize and a solo exhibition in a designated partner institution—was envisioned by the acclaimed Austrian painter before her death in 2014, at the age of 94. It was established posthumously, in June 2016, by the Maria Lassnig Foundation.

As Lassnig herself only enjoyed critical recognition later in her career, the prize is dedicated to mid-career artists.

Wilkes, a 2008 Turner Prize nominee, will receive a solo exhibition at MoMA PS1, where Lassnig had her first major survey in an American institution in 2014.

MoMA PS1 Chief Curator Pete Eleey, who will curate Wilkes’s exhibition at the museum, said in a statement, “Since the start of her career in the 1990s, she has created sculptural tableaux that engage with the rituals of life. Regularly employing quotidian products and residual materials drawn from her domestic life, Wilkes’s installations connect the banalities of daily existence to larger archetypes of birth, marriage, child-rearing, and death.”

Eleey added, “in representing aspects of her internal and domestic worlds, Wilkes evokes Maria Lassnig’s celebrated method of ‘body awareness,’ through which Lassnig sought to depict the way her body felt to her from the inside, rather than attempting to illustrate it from without.”

Eleey served on this year’s inaugural Maria Lassnig Prize selection committee alongside Peter Pakesch, the foundation’s chairman; Hans Ulrich Obrist; Laura Hoptman, curator of painting and sculpture at MoMA; Sheikha Hoor Al-Quasimi, president of the Sharjah Art Foundation; Lenbachhaus director Matthias Mühling; and artist Zoe Leonard.


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