The first awardee, a mid-career painter or sculptor, will be named this fall, with the winner’s solo show set to follow at the museum in 2020. While the award will be international in scope, it will “remain rooted in Norway,” per a press release.
The award, which is fully funded for its first 16 iterations, was established by Arne Wilhelmsen and his family in memory of his late wife Lise Wilhelmsen, who died earlier this year. Arne Wilhelmsen is the chairman of the Norwegian industrial investment company Anders Wilhelmsen & Co. AS, which established the Royal Caribbean Cruise Line in 1968. During her lifetime, Lise was instrumental in acquiring art for the company’s various ships with the intention of benefiting the crew as well as the passengers. Arne’s father, Anders, was close friends with Sonja Henie and Niels Onstad, the founders of the Henie Onstad Kunstsenter.
“It is important for us to create a program that is in keeping with Lise Wilhelmsen’s appreciation and support of mid-career artists with an international standing,” Paulina Rider Wilhelmsen said in a statement on behalf of the family. “There are many art prizes for young, up-and-coming artists today, but we want to recognize artists who have been working for some time. The award is based on Lise Wilhelmsen’s wish for future generations to benefit from her many years of commitment to painting and sculpture.”
The jury for the inaugural edition includes María Inés Rodríguez, editor of Tropical Papers and curator at large at the Museu de Arte de São Paulo; Michelle Kuo, a curator of painting and sculpture at the Museum of Modern Art in New York; Elvira Dyangani Ose, director of the Showroom in London; Paulina Rider Wilhelmsen, founder of Wilstar Social Impact; Caroline Ugelstad, chief curator at Henie Onstad Kunstsenter; and Tone Hansen, director of Henie Onstad Kunstsenter.
“We are proud to announce a strong, all-female international jury,” Hansen said in a statement. “They represent varied, in-depth knowledge in the field of sculpture and painting and are some of the most qualified professionals from different continents.”