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Money Matters: The Largest Cash Art Prizes Worldwide

Simone Leigh winning the 2018 Hugo Boss Prize.

LEXIE MORELAND/WWD/REX/SHUTTERSTOCK

As the number of art prizes has grown over the years, the size of their cash purses has increased as well. In early 2019, the Japanese financial company Nomura Holdings, Inc. created the world’s biggest art prizes—an award for one artist that comes with a $1 million check. Surveying awards around the world, ARTnews has rounded up 21 prizes with purses valued at $100,000 or more. A guide to the world’s largest purses for art awards follows below.

Nomura Art Award
Amount: $1,000,000

The Tokyo-based financial company Nomura Holdings, Inc. launched a $1 million award in 2019, with the plan that the prize will be given to one artist each year. The Nomura Art Award recognizes “an artist who has created a body of work of major cultural significance,” according to a statement to the press. The first winner will be named in September 2019. In advance of naming the inaugural recipient, the company will also give out two $100,000 awards for emerging artists.

Kyoto Prize
Amount: About $902,450
Although it isn’t always won by artists, the Kyoto Prize recognizes achievement annually in the category of “Arts and Philosophy,” along with “Advanced Technology” and “Basic Sciences.” Each section comes with 100 million yen (about $900,000 as of March 2019), money that is sometimes shared among several recipients, and a 20-karat gold medal. Joan Jonas won the prize in 2018.

MacArthur “Genius” Grant
Amount: $625,000

Julie Ault, Titus Kaphar, and Wu Tsang are among the artists who won MacArthur Foundation “Genius” grants in 2018, which come with a $625,000 sum paid out in installments over the course of five years.

Dorothy & Lillian Gish Prize
Amount: $250,000

This award, which has been given out annually since 1994, goes to an artist working in any discipline. Recipients have included Gustavo Dudamel, the music and artistic director of the Los Angeles Philharmonic, as well as artist and architect Maya Lin, filmmaker Spike Lee, and artist and musician Laurie Anderson.

Sotheby’s Prize
Amount: $250,000

Most prizes on this list go to individual artists, but this one, which was established in 2017, is intended “to recognize curatorial excellence, and to facilitate exhibitions that explore overlooked or underrepresented areas of art history,” according to Sotheby’s website. It is open to art institutions, curators, and directors around the world. The inaugural winners were the Museum of Contemporary Art (MCA) Chicago and the Nasher Museum of Art in Durham, North Carolina, and the 2018 recipient was the Academy Museum of Motion Pictures in Los Angeles.

ArtPrize
Amount: $200,000 (grand prize)

ArtPrize, a competition that shifted in 2019 to a biennial structure (the event now alternates every other year with a public-art exhibition), doles out more than $500,000 in total to its winners. Two of its grand prizes—one of which is decided by public vote, the other by a jury of arts professionals—come with $200,000 each. (A series of first-round $12,500 awards are also given out as part of the contest.)

Don Tyson Prize
Amount: $200,000

Facilitated by the Crystal Bridges Museum of American Art in Bentonville, Arkansas, the Don Tyson Prize recognizes individuals or organizations whose “work has significantly advanced knowledge in the field of American art over the course of a career.” Winners of the award, which is named for the former CEO and chairman of Tyson Foods, have included artist Vanessa German and the Archives of American Art in Washington, D.C.

Suzanne Deal Booth/FLAG Art Foundation Prize
Amount: $200,000, plus $600,000 for catalogue and exhibition

As ARTnews has previously reported, the biennial Suzanne Deal Booth/FLAG Art Foundation Prize has two components. It includes $200,000 in cash, and it also comes with $600,000 to be put toward a catalogue and a solo exhibition at the Contemporary Austin and the FLAG Art Foundation in New York, making the prize’s total value $800,000. Nicole Eisenman was named the first recipient in 2018.

Roswitha Haftmann Prize
Amount: About $151,000

Set at CHF 150,000 (about $151,000 as of March 2019), Zurich’s Roswitha Haftmann Prize is among the most important European art awards. Its board includes arts professionals from the Kunsthaus Zürich, the Kunstmuseum Bern, the Kunstmuseum Basel, and the Museum Ludwig in Cologne, and past recipients have been Michelangelo Pistoletto (in 2018), Hans Haacke (2017), Rosemarie Trockel (2014), and Cindy Sherman (2012).

Absolut Art Award
Amount: About $136,000 for artists and about $51,150 for arts writers
The vodka brand Absolut created its art award in 2009 “to mark 30 years of creative collaborations with artists.” The award is given to artists (who receive a cash stipend of €20,000 and a budget of €100,000) and arts writers (who get €25,000 for the development of a new publication plus €20,000 for unrestricted use). The 2017 winners were Anne Imhof and Huey Copeland.

The Praemium Imperiale
Amount: About $135,400
This award recognizes the achievements of five individuals in the following categories: painting, sculpture, architecture, music, and theatre/film. Each winner receives 15 million yen (about $135,400 as of March 2019). The 2018 laureates were Pierre Alechinsky (painting), Fujiko Nakaya (sculpture), Christian Portzamparc (architecture), Riccardo Muti (music), and Catherine Deneuve (theatre/film).

Wolfgang Hahn Prize
Amount: Maximum sum of €100,000 (about $114,000)

One of the most important art prizes in Europe, the Wolfgang Hahn Prize is awarded annually by the Museum Ludwig in Cologne. It comes with a maximum purse of $100,000 and supports the museum’s acquisition of works by the winning artist. Past awardees have included Andrea Fraser, Haegue Yang, Jac Leirner, and Kerry James Marshall.

Hasselblad Foundation International Award in Photography
Amount: About $110,000

Established in 1980, the Hasselblad Foundation International Award in Photography bears a purse of 1 million Swedish krona (about $110,000 as of March 2019). One of the most esteemed photography prizes, the award has been given to Daido Moriyama, Stan Douglas, Paul Graham, and Nan Goldin, among others. A notable factoid: winners of the prize are usually named around March 8, the birthday of photographer Victor Hasselblad, whose foundation created the award upon his death.

Prix Pictet
Amount: About $100,250

In 2008, the Pictet Group, a Swiss banking company, founded the Prix Pictet, which offers CHF 100,000 (about $100,300 as of March 2019) to photographers who address issues related to sustainability and environmentalism in their work. Benoit Aquin, Nadav Kander, Mitch Epstein, and Luc Delahaye are among the award’s past recipients.

Bucksbaum Award
Amount: $100,000

Since 2000, one artist at each edition of the Whitney Biennial has won this $100,000 award, which is named for the late collector Melva Bucksbaum; it also includes a solo exhibition at the Whitney Museum in New York. Pope.L received the award in 2017.

Future Generation Art Prize
Amount: $100,000

Open to international artists 35 years old or younger and facilitated by the Victor Pinchuk Foundation in Kiev, Ukraine, the Future Generation Art Prize comes with $100,000, which is divided into a $60,000 purse in unrestricted cash and $40,000 for the production of new work by the main prize winner. Special prize winners receive $20,000 for residency programs. Artists shortlisted for the prize get to participate in an exhibition at the PinchukArtCentre.

Hugo Boss Prize
Amount: $100,000

Another biennial award, the Solomon R. Guggenheim Foundation’s Hugo Boss Prize equips artists with $100,000 in funds and a solo exhibition at its New York museum. The 2018 winner was Simone Leigh, whose show will open at the institution in April 2019. Past awardees have included Anicka Yi, Danh Vo, Paul Chan, and Hans Peter-Feldmann.

Mohn Award
Amount: $100,000

Given by the Hammer Museum in Los Angeles, one participant receives this prize in each edition of the Made in L.A. biennial. Past winners have included Lauren Halsey, Adam Linder, and Alice Konitz. Alongside the Mohn Award, the museum also presents a $25,000 lifetime achievement award and a $25,000 prize for a participant chosen by a public vote.

Lise Wilhelmsen Art Award Programme
Amount: $100,000

To be announced in the fall of 2019, this newly established award will be given every two years; its first winner will receive $100,000 and a solo exhibition at the Henie Onstad Kunstsenter in Høvikodden, Norway. María Inés Rodríguez, editor of Tropical Papers and curator at large at the Museu de Arte de São Paulo, and Michelle Kuo, a curator of painting and sculpture at the Museum of Modern Art in New York, are among the jurors for the inaugural prize.

Nasher Prize
Amount: $100,000

Celebrating excellence in contemporary sculpture, the Nasher Prize is awarded by the Nasher Sculpture Center in Dallas, Texas. It has a purse of $100,000, and has been awarded every April since 2015. Theaster Gates and Doris Salcedo have won in past years.

Zurich Art Prize
Amount: $100,000

This award totals $100,000, with $80,000 going toward a solo exhibition at the Museum Haus Konstruktiv in the Swiss capital. The remaining $20,000 can be used however the winner wishes. Leonor Antunes won the prize in 2018, and other recipients have included Robin Rhode, Marguerite Humeau, Nairy Baghramian, and Latifa Echakhch.

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