In 2008, respected gallerist Cynthia Corbett, had the idea of establishing the Young Masters Art Prize with the aim of celebrating artists who pay homage to the skill and traditions of the past; knowing that young artists today are not afraid, unlike their predecessors, to look back at art history and its lessons.
The rise in interest and references to the art historical past by artists and institutions, is a testament to the growing trend within the artistic community in embracing the past and drawing inspiration from the Old Masters. There are now numerous examples of the contemporary being inspired by the past, including the 54th Venice Biennale (2011), where works by Titian were exhibited alongside contemporary artworks, the emergence of the inaugural Frieze Masters 2012, and most recently at Art Basel 2012. Both the academic art world and commercial dealers are recognizing the significance of the growing interest in the past by contemporary artistic practitioners.
“The public knowledge of Jeff Koons’s personal collecting of Old Masters, the mounting interest of contemporary collectors in visiting fairs like Maastricht, and the forthcoming Frieze Masters: I think there is a desire to look back—way back” – Lisa Schiff, New York Based Art Advisor
Godfrey Barker, renowned art historian, critic and Chair Judge for Young Masters 2012 and 2014, says,
“the old has something to offer the new – the past has the important lesson to teach that skill is the great enabler. If you gain a skill you can say more and achieve more and be a more powerful artist”.
The Young Masters Art Prize operates as a not-for-profit initiative of the Cynthia Corbett Gallery, and is recognized as an exciting, high profile competition that is highly innovative in its concept – to recognize contemporary art that embraces its past.
Artists are selected for their appropriation of an element of the established art-historical canon; either through technique, imagery or subject, whilst establishing an undeniably contemporary spin on highly revered paintings. By placing these contemporary works firmly in contrast to the existing art-historical canon, the Young Masters Art Prize is both unique and ground-breaking.
Young Masters Art Prize 2009 served as the inaugural launch of the art prize, sponsored by AXA UK. The prize winning artists for 2009, Héctor de Gregorio and American artist duo Ghost of a Dream, were presented with the award by AXA Group Chief Executive Nicolas Moreau.
2010 and 2011 saw the expansion of the Prize with a series of exhibitions and project-based spaces that took place in several venues across London throughout the year. Shortlisted Young Masters Art Prize 2009 artist, Lluis Barba, was invited to exhibit at a special pop-up exhibition at the Courtauld Institute as part of the East Wing IV Exhibitionism: The Art of Display show.
The second edition of the Prize, Young Masters Art Prize 2012, was curated by Daisy McMullan in two parts at Sphinx Fine Art and Gallery 27 Cork Street. A judging panel, chaired by Godfrey Barker, awarded the Prize to photographer Lottie Davies, and four runners-up prizes to Georgia Dodson, Wieland Payer, Brad Woodfin and Mia Brownell.
2013 has seen an incredibly successful year for the Young Masters project, through our Young Masters Tour project, which took place in various venues across the UK, including Cork Street, Henley Festival, major London art fairs, and finishing at Sphinx Fine Art Gallery in Notting Hill, London.
Young Masters Art Prize 2014
In 2014, we are excited to launch the third edition of the Young Masters Art Prize at The London Art Fair 2014. Two exhibitions will take place in the Autumn of 2014 at Sphinx Fine Art, 14th – 31st October, and the Lloyds Club, 15th September – 5th December.
Please check the Prize 2014 page on the Young Masters Art Prize website for more information and the full itinerary, as well as details of how to apply to the 2014 Prize.
The Cynthia Corbett Gallery
The Cynthia Corbett Gallery, an international contemporary art gallery represents emerging and newly established artists and is a regular exhibitor at major international contemporary art fairs and has an annual programme of exhibitions that take place throughout the year in London and New York.
corbettPROJECTS launched in 2004, focuses on presenting curated projects that address contemporary critical practice and works with emerging curators and artists. CorbettPROJECTS presents an innovative programme of events in a variety of media with a particular emphasis on video art. In 2009 the Gallery launched the Young Masters Art Prize sponsored by AXA UK. The Young Masters Art Prize 2012 was launched in Spring 2012 as a not-for-profit initiative presented by The Cynthia Corbett Gallery.