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Laura Owens Named Winner of the 2015 Robert De Niro Sr. Prize

Laura Owens, Untitled, 2014, Pantone ink, silkscreen ink, Flashe, acrylic, oil, pastel, paper, and wood on linen. COURTESY CAPITAIN PETZEL, BERLIN

Laura Owens, Untitled, 2014, Pantone ink, silkscreen ink, Flashe, acrylic, oil, pastel, paper, and wood on linen.


Robert De Niro announced today that the painter Laura Owens has won the 2015 Robert De Niro Sr. Prize, named for the actor’s father, who was an artist, and awarded annually to a mid-career American artist. Owens will now receive $25,000 from the Tribeca Film Institute and join a group of past winners that includes Joyce Pensato and Stanley Whitney.

Although the Los Angeles–based artist’s paintings are instantly recognizable, it’s often difficult to describe Owens’s signature style. Referencing various art-historical movements and genres, from Chinese landscape painting to Cubism, Owens’s paintings are hybrid works that tread the line between abstraction and figuration. Her newest works, which were on view in MoMA’s “Forever Now” show, rely on Photoshop, yet still demand comparisons to artists of decades past, like Picasso and James Rosenquist.

“Laura Owens’s gallery of work is one that truly captures everything we are looking for when awarding the Robert De Niro Sr. Prize,” De Niro said in a statement. “In recognition of my father’s legacy, we want this award to celebrate and honor Laura Owens, an American painter who is creating her own legacy through her incredible artwork.”

“I am honored to be one of the judges to choose this year’s De Niro prize winner, Laura Owens,” Peter Brant, one of the judges of the prize (and who, full disclosure, recently acquired part of the parent company of this magazine), said. “Laura is one of America’s most gifted painters. She has demonstrated her masterful skills as a painter consistently over the past 20 years. Laura is well deserving of this award.”

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  • Albin

    All credit to the artist for outperformance, but I have to express some reservations about the Lanz/Crumb-inspired trend in contemporary visual art, I’m tempted to name Toonism. It isn’t this mag, which tends to concentrate on successful commercial practitioners of the old new schools, but the offerings of “Juxtapoze” and similar emerging talent venues marking a descent into the cheap thrill of the Zap Comix tattoo.

  • George Sudduth

    De Niro should be ashamed……I can’t imagine his father matriculating towards this kind of comic book tripe as Fine Art.

  • HelloNice

    wow. amazing. Laura Owens is an interesting and deserving painter. BUT….I suppose because Stanley Whitney got it the first year, and Joyce Pensato the second year, I assumed it was intended for under-recognized, mid career, dedicated painters. Mr De Niro Senior himself was under recognized. Another vanity award. Bravo Bobby jr.

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