Emma Hart Wins Sixth Max Mara Art Prize for Women

The biennial award celebrates the outstanding contributions of women to art.

Emma Hart in her studio in South-East London.Photo: Thierry Bal.
Emma Hart in her studio in South-East London.
Photo: Thierry Bal.

Last night, during a ceremony held at the Whitechapel Gallery, the London-based artist Emma Hart was pronounced winner of the sixth Max Mara Art Prize for Women.

Since 2005, and in collaboration with the Whitechapel Gallery, the biennial prize supports UK-based female artists who have not previously had a solo survey exhibition.

Hart (born in 1974) triumphed over her fellow nominees, Ruth Ewan, Ana Genovés, Tania Kovats, and Phoebe Unwin. As the winner, Hart will now embark on a six-month residency across the Italian regions of Lombardy, Umbria, and Emilia-Romagna, during which she will be given the support and funds necessary to materialize her ambitious winning proposal.

Installation view of Emma Hart’s Giving It All That at the 2014 Folkestone Triennial. Photo: Thierry Bal Courtesy the artist and Folkestone Triennial via Whitechapel Gallery.

Installation view of Emma Hart’s Giving It All That at the 2014 Folkestone Triennial.
Photo: Thierry Bal Courtesy the artist and Folkestone Triennial via Whitechapel Gallery.

This new body of work will be presented at the Whitechapel Gallery in 2017 before touring to Collezione Maramotti in Reggio Emilia, Italy.

Hart’s multidisciplinary oeuvre combines photography, video, and sound with ceramic and clay sculptures in immersive, often humorous installations. Her work is concerned with how real emotions and experiences are distorted when captured on camera, and she has a penchant for incorporating autobiographical elements (including her anxieties and embarrassments) into her work.

“I am truly delighted to have won this prize. It gives me the time and space to make work in a focused manner that unfortunately normally evades me. I can concentrate, experiment and fully immerse myself in new ideas and methods,” Hart said in a statement. “I have also never really left London, so six months in Italy will be the adventure of a lifetime.”

“It was clear that Emma Hart’s proposal was a deeply personal subject key to her life and work: the power of the family,” Iwona Blazwick, director of the Whitechapel Gallery and chair of the Max Mara Art Prize for Women jury, said in a statement.

“The jury were impressed with the depth and breadth of references in Hart’s approach, from the Milan System’s Approach of family psychotherapy to the novels of Elena Ferrante, to the Italian tradition of Maiolica ceramics,” she explained.

“The Whitechapel Gallery counts Picasso, Pollock, and Rothko among our alumni, but we also gave Barbara Hepworth, Frida Kahlo, Eva Hesse, Cindy Sherman, Nan Goldin, Isa Genzken, Gillian Wearing, and Sarah Lucas their first major solo shows,” Blazwick added. “We are delighted to welcome Emma Hart into our history books and present her at the Gallery in 2017.”

2015 Awards for Artists recipients (from left): Brian Irvine, Karen Mirza and Brad Butler, Emma Hart, Peter Wareham, Adem Ilhan, Tina Keane, and Will Holder.<br>Photo: Emile Holba.

2015 Awards for Artists recipients (from left): Brian Irvine, Karen Mirza and Brad Butler, Emma Hart, Peter Wareham, Adem Ilhan, Tina Keane, and Will Holder.
Photo: Emile Holba.

This past November, Hart won one of the 2015 the Paul Hamlyn Foundation visual arts awards—alongside fellow artists Will Holder, Tina Keane, Karen Mirza and Brad Butler, and Patrick Staff—which awards each winner £50,000 over three years, with no obligations or conditions as to how the money is to be used.

Previous winners of the Max Mara Art Prize for Women include Corin Sworn, Laure Prouvost, Andrea Büttner, Hannah Rickards, and Margaret Salmon.


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