CATHY WILKES – MARIA LASSNIG PRIZE – October 22, 2017–March 11, 2018 – MoMA PS1, NYC

On 18 October, the 50,000 € MARIA LASSNIG PRIZE will be awarded to the artist Cathy Wilkes, born in Belfast, Ireland, in 1966. On 22 October, a solo exhibition opens at MoMA PS1 in New York City, supported by the Maria Lassnig Foundation.

The Maria Lassnig Prize was originally envisioned by pioneering Austrian artist Maria Lassnig before her death in 2014 at the age of 94, at height of her artistic powers. Having achieved recognition only later in life, she hoped to encourage the efforts of fellow career artists not yet familiar to the public. Each prize granted in her name will carry an award of 50,000 € and a solo exhibition organized by a designated institution that has collaborated with the Foundation and a selection committee to choose a winner. For 2017, that institutional partner is MoMA PS1, New York, which in 2014 presented Lassnig’s first comprehensive American museum survey to universal acclaim. The exhibition was organized by Peter Eleey, MoMA PS1 Chief Curator, who served on this year’s inaugural Maria Lassnig Prize selection committee with Peter Pakesch; noted curators Matthias Mühling and Hans Ulrich Obrist, both members of the Foundation’s Board of Directors; Laura Hoptman, Curator of Painting and Sculpture, The Museum of Modern Art; Sheikha Hoor Al-Quasimi, President, Sharjah Art Foundation; and noted New Yorkbased artist Zoe Leonard.

Peter Eleey, who curates Cathy Wilkes’ exhibition at MoMA PS1, writes of the artist: “For more than two decades, Wilkes has created sculptural installations that engage with the rituals of life. Regularly employing quotidian products and residual materials drawn from her domestic life, Wilkes’s installations connect the banalities of daily existence to larger archetypes of birth, marriage, child-rearing, and death. This combination of the personal and universal parallels a meditation at the heart of her work, in which Wilkes’s art enacts an exercise in empathy, exposing deeply felt subjective experiences to reach beyond herself while also insisting upon the fundamentally private nature of artmaking.”

“Maria Lassnig is today viewed as a fiercely unique and significant figure in the history of modern art,” said Peter Pakesch. “But her risk-taking work did not receive international attention until quite late in her life and after decades of struggle. She was always engaged in the efforts of other artists as a teacher and peer, and in her last years spoke of hoping to find some way to acknowledge those at mid-career – longstanding artists whose work deserves broader attention and appreciation. With this in mind, the Maria Lassnig Foundation established the Maria Lassnig Prize in her spirit of encouragement. The unique structure of the prize is a key element in realizing Maria’s wishes: by collaborating with a leading international institution, we are able to ensure the broadest possible platform for the prize winner. We are delighted to bestow the inaugural prize on Cathy Wilkes, and are particularly honored that our first institutional partner is MoMA PS1, which presented Lassnig’s first major U.S. museum exhibition.”

Cathy Wilkes. Untitled. 2012. Gift of the Speyer Family Foundation and Mrs. Saidie A. May (by exchange). © 2017 Cathy Wilkes

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