Are Art Prizes a Waste of Time?

The Philadelphia Inquirer‘s contributing art critic Edward Sozanski seems to think so, and he makes a convincing case:

For all but a handful of the chosen, the prize ethos is corrupting. Pitting artists against one another as if they were gladiators is inherently insidious. And every year lots of artists waste lots of time applying for prizes they have little or no chance of winning.

More disturbing, the prize ethos subtly promotes naked careerism. A prize certainly dresses up one’s resumé, as Trecartin and the Dufalas discovered this year. But embellishing resumés, while creative in its own way, can become a substitute for genuine achievement.

I think this renewed taste for art prizes is part of the new marketing of art as entertainment and not enlightenment. It is a transition IMHO that has been seriously happening for about a decade — though if someone disagrees, let me know since there are obviously people out there with longer memories than me. The Pruitt Awards at the Guggenheim is another manifestation of this culture, which seeks to fashion a Hollywood-wannabe culture out of the “art world.”

One response to “Are Art Prizes a Waste of Time?”

  1. While it may be a perverse move in towards “watered-down” art my question is: Can we not, as artists, benefit from Hollywood’s new obsession with art?

    BTW – You’re right. This has been progressing for over a decade. Art as entertainment is at the peak of what has been a slow rise for quite some time.

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