Agnieszka Polska Wins Germany’s National Gallery Prize for Young Artists

The Berlin-based artist follows in the footsteps of Anne Imhof and Omer Fast.

Agnieszka Polska, winner of the Preis der Nationalgalerie 2017. Photo:

The Polish-born, Berlin-based artist Agnieszka Polska has won Germany’s Preis der Nationalgalerie (National Gallery Prize), announced on Friday within the exhibition concourse hall of the Hamburger Bahnhof in Berlin. One of Germany’s most prestigious art prizes, it is awarded every two years to an artist under the age of 40 who lives and works in the German capital. Polska won the juried prize and an audience award will be announced in January 2018.

Although the award offers no prize money, it is held in high esteem and the winner goes on to present a large solo exhibition in one of the state museums the following year.

Agnieszka Polska
© Agnieszka Polska

Both the jury and audience prize in 2015 went to performance artist Anne Imhof, who was also this year’s winner of the Venice Biennale’s Golden Lion. Cyprien Gaillard won in 2011; Omer Fast took the prize in 2009.

“Throughout her work Polska ingeniously interweaves some of the most pressing issues of our time,” said juror Sheena Wagstaff, chairman of the modern and contemporary art department the Metropolitan Museum of Art, during the ceremony.

The award was especially notable this year because it featured an all-woman short list: Sol Calero (born in 1982 in Caracas), Iman Issa (born in 1979 in Cairo), Jumana Manna (born in 1987 in Princeton), and Polska (born in 1985 in Lublin). Each presented vastly different works within a joint exhibition that opened September 29 at the museum, but the jury noted common ground between the artists, who each showed dedication to social issues in their practices.

Polska presented two new films for the exhibition, which contained unsettling moral undertones, depicting the sun as a helpless witness to human behavior and a world marked by environmental and ethical collapse. Her work was included in ‘VIVA ARTE VIVA!’ at this year’s Venice Biennial and inaugurated the New Museum’s ‘Screen Series’ film exhibition platform in 2016.

Installation view of What the Sun Has Seen (Version II), 2017 at the Hamburger Bahnhof Berlin. © Nationalgalerie – Staatliche Museen zu Berlin / Jan Windszus / Courtesy of Zak Branicka Galerie, Berlin and OVERDUIN & CO., LA

The jury was comprised of five international museum directors and curators, including Wagstaff, Udo Kittelman, Hou Hanru, Sven Beckstette, and Zdenka Badovinac.

The audience award, which you can vote on here, will be announced on January 14, 2018.


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