Spotlighting the Next Generation of Figurative Artists, the AXA Art Prize Exhibition Opens In New York

The winner of the $10,000 prize will be selected by an artist jury of Laurie Simmons, Salman Toor, Erik Parker, and Julia Chiang.

Finalist Michon Sanders's Repast To Follow (2019). Courtesy of AXA Art Prize.
Finalist Michon Sanders's Repast To Follow (2019). Courtesy of AXA Art Prize.

If you’re interested in discovering figurative art’s next big thing, be sure to add New York’s AXA Art Prize exhibition to your calendar this month.

The exhibition, which runs November 13–18 at the New York Academy of Art, presents 40 undergraduate and graduate art students who are short-listed finalists for the $10,000 prize, awarded by AXA XL, the international insurance provider. 

Finalist Cy Yoon's Wedding In Utopia. Courtesy of AXA Art Prize.

Finalist Cy Yoon’s Wedding In Utopia. Courtesy of AXA Art Prize.

The prize, which launched in 2018, has witnessed an incredible outpouring of applicants to its open call. More than 1,000 artists applied in the prize’s first year; this year 400 artists from 125 schools submitted applications.

Aside from the considerable financial reward, the prize has also garnered attention for its juries of notable curators and artists (curators make the first round of selections and an artist jury chooses the final winner).

This year’s finalists were selected by a jury comprised of Ian Alteveer, curator at the Metropolitan Museum of Art; Lauren Haynes, contemporary art curator at Crystal Bridges Museum of American Art; Brett Littman, director of the Isamu Noguchi Museum; and Eugenie Tsai, senior curator of contemporary art at the Brooklyn Museum.

Finalist MJ Torrecampo's Two for One Tuesdays. Courtesy of AXA Art Prize.

Finalist MJ Torrecampo’s Two for One Tuesdays. Courtesy of AXA Art Prize.

The artists include 16 men and 24 women enrolled at 27 schools. They hail from 15 US states and two foreign countries. Artists Laurie Simmons, Salman Toor, Erik Parker, and Julia Chiang will choose the final 2020 AXA Art Prize winners. Past artist jurors have included Eric Fischl, Nicole Eisenman, and Amy Sherald, in 2018, and Sanford Biggers, Tschabalala Self, John Currin, and Will Cotton in 2019.

“So often there is a gap between the established art world and artists just starting out. In developing the AXA Art Prize and continuing to present it even in our current crisis, AXA XL affirmed its commitment to providing an exhibition platform, financial support, and networking opportunities to the next generation of talent,” said Jennifer Schipf, the company’s global practice leader of art who also serves on the prize jury. 

The AXA Art Prize Winner Monica Ikegwu (second from right), with Eric Fischl and Amy Sherald.

The AXA Art Prize Winner Monica Ikegwu (second from right), with Jennifer Schipf, Eric Fischl and Amy Sherald.

Past winners Monica Ikegwu (2018) and Anna Park (2019) have since garnered notable attention. Ikegwu, who was at the time an undergrad at the Maryland College Institute of Art, has since had a solo exhibition at Band of Vices in LA and was featured in the acclaimed group show “Renaissance Noir” at UTA Artists Space. Park, who was receiving an MFA at the New York Academy of Art, is currently in group shows at both the Drawing Center and Blum and Poe in Los Angeles.

Park said winning the prize introduced her to a new and influential sphere of contacts. “Winning the prize gave my work exposure to people I would not have been able to garner on my own. The entire experience was also was an incredible opportunity to meet fellow artists,” said Park

Ikegwu noted, meanwhile, that winning the prize provided new opportunities and allowed her to invest in better materials, but most importantly that being picked by a jury of artists she admired provided tremendous encouragement. “To have them personally pick my work from hundreds of submissions was shocking and also a blessing,” said Ikegwu, “It was also a big confidence booster that gave me the motivation to keep going with the work that I was making.”

Keep an eye out for this year’s winner, who will to be announced virtually on November 17.

The 2020 AXA Art Prize Exhibition will be on view at the New York Academy of Art, November 13–18.  Make an appointment to visit the show here


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