"Making art and being an artist is a philosophical task than merely producing objects."
Rachel Harrison, The Spoon Bender, 2011. Wood, polystyrene, cement, acrylic, felt, canvas, steel chair, plastic doll and eyeglasses. 53 1/2 x 59 x 77 inches overall / 135.9 x 149.9 x 195.6 cm. Photo Credit: John Berens
Calder Foundation announces 2011 Calder Prize
The Calder Foundation and the Scone Foundation announced on 3 May 2011 that the 2011 Calder Prize will be awarded to American artist Rachel Harrison. The ceremony will take place in early June at the Peggy Guggenheim Collection, where a work by the artist will be on view during the opening week of the Venice Biennale.
The Calder Prize, in the amount of $50,000, honors contemporary artists who have completed exemplary work early in their careers. In addition to the cash prize, the recipient benefits from a residency at the Atelier Calder and the placement of a signature work in a major public collection.
True to the spirit of Alexander Calder, Harrison blurs the lines between abstraction and figuration, as well as sculpture and other media, by negotiating both imagined and existing space. The Prize honors the artist’s hybrid and reference-laden use of photography, found objects, and sculptural elements to elicit highly intellectualized cognitive as well as real-time visceral responses from her viewers. Harrison’s work challenges us to reconsider the definition of sculpture, while simultaneously recontextualizing it within the history of art.
Harrison is the fourth artist to receive the Calder Prize. The impact of this recognition is evident in the success of past recipients. The inaugural 2005 Prize laureate, Tara Donovan, was named a MacArthur Fellow in 2008. In 2007, Bernard Kouchner, French Minister of Foreign and European Affairs, awarded the prize to Zilvinas Kempinas, who went on to represent Lithuania in the 2009 Venice Biennale. Tomas Saraceno, who received the 2009 award from French Minister of Culture Christine Albanel, continues to exhibit successfully around the world, including an upcoming solo exhibition of his Atelier Calder project Cloud Cities at Maison Hermès in Toyko in 2012.
The Calder Prize grew out of the success of the Atelier Calder residency program, which Harrison will commence in May 2012. During the residency program, she will live and work at Calder’s home and studio in Saché, France. The technical and financial support Harrison is awarded during her stay at the Atelier will allow the artist to undertake artistic projects that might not otherwise be possible.
About the Artist
Born in New York City in 1966, Harrison currently lives and works in Brooklyn. Her work has been exhibited worldwide since the early 1990s, including the artist’s recent solo exhibition Consider the Lobster, curated by Tom Eccles, Center for Curatorial Studies, Hessel Museum, Bard College, Annandale-on-Hudson (2009), which traveled asHAYCATION, curated by Daniel Birnbaum and Melanie Ohnemus, Portikus, Frankfurt am Main (2010) and Conquest of the Useless, curated by Iwona Blazwick, Whitechapel Gallery, London (2010). Harrison has also been featured in numerous group exhibitions, such as Notations/Everyday Disturbances at the Philadelphia Museum of Art (2011);Modern British Sculpture at the Royal Academy of Arts, London (2011); ContemporaryArt from the Collection and The Original Copy: Photography of Sculpture, 1839 to Todayat the Museum of Modern Art, New York (2010); the Venice Biennale (2003, 2009) and the Whitney Biennial, New York (2002, 2008).