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The best ART AWARDS? Everyone knows how to win a prize. Let’s not talk about the art world if this is one of the best known awards ever. Rightfully any artist would like to get it. But what are artist awards really and which ones can be considered the most important? I’m Clelia and today I’m telling you about the 7 most coveted and well-known national and international art awards. 

Why win an art award?

Before telling you what the most important art prizes are in my opinion today, let me ask you a question that I myself have been asking myself lately. If you were an artist what would be the true value of winning an art award? In fact, if I reflect on my personal experience, not as an artist or even as a great sportswoman, for example, I think that the value of the awards I have obtained has always been above all in the field of study and research and mostly linked to recognition by others of the value of what I was creating or doing. 

So if I were an artist that would probably be the real prize for me. Knowing therefore that what I am creating and realizing is actually recognized not only by me as a creator but also by others. And I’m probably not the only one who thinks so. In fact, I once read about a 1980s performance by Grayson Perry. Yes, the English artist that I adore and have often told you about Instagram. In college, even before actually winning one of the prizes we are talking about today, Grayson Perry decided for his project to stage his own fake award including a paper crown of no economic value, as the final prize.

Two more reasons: money and glory

So having your work recognized by others is one of the main reasons for winning an art award. There are at least two other motivations: money and glory. In fact, several of the prizes allow you to win sums that can be reinvested by the artist to continue creating. In terms of glory, Grayson Perry knows something about it since he, like several other British artists Damien Hirst, Anish Kapoor or Tracy Emin, have seen their careers skyrocket internationally also thanks to their participation in the first of the awards I’m telling you about today: the Turner Prize.

Best ART AWARDS? The Turner Prize

The Turner prize takes its name from the English artist William Turner and it is no coincidence. In fact there are two reasons: the first is that Turner himself donated his works to England at his death and wanted a prize to be created. The second, more romantic, is that today Turner is considered the most innovative English artist ever.

The Turner Prize was first awarded in 1984 and since then an artist born in England or working mainly here has been awarded every year. The Tate selects an ever-changing jury and the group is made up of curators, critics, writers and art gallery directors and at least one of them must be foreign. In addition, the public select their favorite artist from the Tate website through a poll. 

Until 2016 there was an age limit, the award was only for artists younger than 50 in order to give space to emerging artists. Then came the change: given that the creative peak can be reached even after the age of 50, the Tate wanted to demonstrate that one can be emerging but not necessarily super young in age.

Having established the value of the recognition and the glory, now let’s talk about the prize money, which is quite high: £40,000. Divided as follows: 25,000 to the first classified and 5,000 to each of those in the final. But in this case what makes the difference is the story of who has won it over the years. In fact, the award has been won by artists such as: Gilbert & George, Tony Cragg, Antony Gormley, Damien Hirst and Steve McQueen. But it also disclosed those who didn’t win it, as in the case of Tracey Emin.  

Best ART AWARDS? Hugo Boss Prize

And the second prize we’re talking about today also stands out for the importance of the organizing body and for the cash prize. This is theHugo Boss Prize organized in collaboration with the Guggenheim Museum in New York. was born in 1996 to celebrate contemporary art in all its forms by breaking down the barriers of diversity of gender, age, nationality but above all the artistic medium used. The cash prize is $100,000, no kidding! And the first winner in 1996 was Matthew Barney.

The peculiarity of the award, however, is that it is given to only one artist out of the six finalists chosen by the jury of critics and curators and that above all it takes place every two years, therefore the last edition was in 2020 with the victory of Deana Lawson.

It has never been won by an Italian artist, but among the finalists in 2000 there was also our own Maurizio Cattelan, who didn’t win that year but then in 2011 was the star of his crazy retrospective Maurizio Cattelan: All right at the Guggenheim Museum.


And let’s go back to Europe for one of the prizes that in my opinion has the most interesting features: The Marcel Duchamp Prizeand. I’ll tell you right away the only flaw of this award and in my opinion it is the fact that it is only open to French or international artists who live and work in France. Once this obstacle has been overcome, in all other respects it is truly the most interesting.

Obviously it was named in honor of Marcel Duchamp, but above all it is an award conceived and carried forward by collectors. It was founded in 2000 by the President of ADIAF, an association of art collectors that works for the dissemination of French art. The award is given each year to only one artist out of the 4 finalists who are chosen by the collectors through visits to the artist’s studios, a skimming by vote of all the associates and then the final decision of the jury. 

The prize is remarkable: 35,000 euros but there are also up for grabs a three-month exhibition at the Center Pompidou of the 4 finalists with a catalogue, and above all two years of artist residency to carry on their work. I think if I was an artist I would move to France just to participate because it sounds like a dream! 

Future Generation Art Prize

But let’s go back to America for an award that has caused a lot of talk in recent years, more because of its jury than its winners. It’s about the Future Generation Art Prize. A biennial award that stands out for the possibility of being able to participate online from all over the world with even real talent scouts who go to discover the artists and invite them to apply. 

The jury that causes so much talk is made up of 4 of the international contemporary artists with the highest market valuations and therefore also the most famous in the world: Damien Hirst, Jeff Koons, Takashi Murakami and Andreas Gursky but not only obviously there are also collectors such as Miuccia Prada and Elton John and museum directors such as Richard Armstrong of the Guggenheim in New York or Eli Broad of the Broad Foundation. 

What do you win? A cash prize of 100,000 dollars and the commission for a group of works. An award therefore open to all, with a high sum of money but which should perhaps offer more visibility to the participants than to the jury.

Best ART AWARDS? Art Prize

Let’s just stay in America for a moment and I’ll tell you about theArt Prize, so called precisely because it was born in 2009 with the idea that it is the one and only therefore The Art Prize. 

The interesting thing is that there is not just one winner in the strict sense but numerous scholarships are given to the participating artists for a total value of approximately 450,000 dollars. Not only that, the works are exhibited for three weeks around a Michigan city where it was born to ensure that people can experience a direct relationship with art. Being open to anyone who wants to participate and above all to any medium, in my opinion it is among the most inclusive art awards.

It’s taking place right now between September and October so I’ll leave you the link in the description or in the comments so you can take a look at both this and the other prizes I’m telling you about. 

Max Mara Art Prize for Women

The next prize is Il Max Mara Art Prize for Women and in my opinion it is interesting for at least two reasons:

  1. it is dedicated to women 
  2. it takes place in collaboration between Italy and England

The award arises from the union between the Maramotti Collection and the Whitechapel Gallery in London, in fact it is curated directly by its director. The jury changes every year but is always made up of four figures: a collector, a gallery owner, a journalist and an artist. Each of them presents 5 young female artists residing in the United Kingdom, therefore a total of 20 and then we arrive at the choice of a group of 5 finalists, each of whom will present an artistic project. 

The winner will be the one who will then have 6 months of residence in Italy to complete her project and see it exhibited first in England in an exhibition dedicated to the WhiteChapel and then in the Maramotti Collection. So an award designed by women for women. 

Best ART AWARDS? The Cairo Award

The last award I’m telling you about is Italian and it’s not the first time you’ve heard of it here on the channel. It’s about the Cairo Award, linked to the Cairo Editore magazine Arte. I had already mentioned it in my video here on the channel in which I recommend the best art magazines to read in Italy and it is an award that I have followed a lot especially in the years when I lived and worked in Milan. 

It was born in 2000 with the idea of ​​awarding the best young artists under 40 every year. Anyone can participate and the 20 finalists are chosen by the editorial staff of the magazine so that their works are all exhibited together for a collective exhibition. Over time it has been won by some of the most interesting Italian artists such as Masbedo, Fabio Viale, Fabrizio Cotognini or Laura Pugno. And the most interesting thing in my opinion is that it is divided into different sections, four in total: painting, sculpture, photography and graphics. 

As with international awards, there is also a cash prize for this one which is around 25,000 euros for the winner and then the acquisition of the work in the Prize collection and obviously a dedicated article in the magazine which tells the story and the works of the winning artist but also each phase of the award ceremony. 


If you want to find out more, I suggest you follow their profile Instagram of the Cairo Award because they not only tell about contemporary art but enrich everything with many curiosities. Plus if you take a look at their reels, you might also find some special content made by me. In fact, there I will tell you the stories and works of some of the winners of the award. 

These are the 7 national and international art awards that in my opinion as art lovers are worth keeping an eye on. Obviously there are also some other very interesting ones, but as always this is my selection. But let me know in the comments if there are other awards that are worth following or that as an artist you might recommend from experience. I’m always curious!

And if you liked this post I also suggest you take a look at the post on best art magazineseoa the one on 20 Professions in the Art World

Thanks and see you next time! 

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