Posted August 12, 2009

Finalists announced in inaugural Jack Wolgin International Competition in the Fine Arts at the Tyler School of Art

Temple University's Tyler School of Art has announced the three finalists in the inaugural Jack Wolgin International Competition in the Fine Arts, which will award its recipient a prize of $150,000, the world's largest given to a visual artist in a juried competition. The finalists, chosen from a panel of nominees by three distinguished jurors, are Sanford Biggers, Michael Rakowitz and Ryan Trecartin, all of whom will present works in an exhibition to be featured at Temple Gallery from Oct. 1 through Oct. 31, 2009. 

The three jurors were Melissa Chi, director of the Asia Society, New York; Paolo Colombo, art advisor to the Istanbul

Exhibition of finalists' works at Temple Gallery: Oct. 1-31, 2009

Opening reception: 6-8 p.m., Thursday, Oct. 1, 2009

Announcement of recipient of $150,000 prize: Thursday, Oct. 22, 2009

Museum of Modern Art and managing director of Dorje Film, Rome; and Ingrid Schaffner, senior curator at the Institute for Contemporary Art, University of Pennsylvania, Philadelphia. The recipient of the inaugural Jack Wolgin Fine Arts Prize will be announced at Temple Gallery in the Tyler School's new 234,000-square-foot facility on Thursday, Oct. 22, 2009.

"We are delighted to welcome the finalists of the first Jack Wolgin Competition to Temple University's Tyler School of Art. Mr. Wolgin is an inspirational leader and patron of the arts, and this new prize will perpetuate his tremendous legacy," said Temple University President Ann Weaver Hart. "We are confident that the Wolgin Prize will soon rank among the most distinguished fine arts honors in the world. By bringing the work of these great artists to Temple University, we hope the Wolgin Competition will open productive new dialogue among students, the people of Philadelphia and the international art world."

Prior to the prize announcement, the three finalists will take part in a two-day artist-in-residence program, interacting with the students across disciplines at Temple University, and on Oct. 23, a day after the prize reception, the recipient will present a lecture open to the student body and the public. 

Courtesy of Sanford Biggers
"Cheshire" by Sanford Biggers (2009).

About the finalists

Sanford Biggers (born 1970) is a native of Los Angeles, California, and a current New York resident, who uses the study of ethnological objects, popular icons and the Dadaist tradition to explore cultural and creative syncretism, art history and politics. An accomplished musician, Biggers often incorporates performative elements into his sculptures and installations, resulting in multilayered works that act as anecdotal vignettes, at once full of wit and clear formal intent. Biggers has won several awards and has participated in a number of prestigious national and international artist residencies and fellowships. Biggers'

installations, videos and performances have appeared in institutions in China, Germany, Hungary, Japan, Poland and Russia as well as several notable exhibitions such as the Prospect.1/New Orleans biennial, Illuminations at the Tate Modern, Performa 07, the Whitney Biennial and Freestyle at the Studio Museum in Harlem. He is currently preparing for solo shows at the Contemporary Arts Forum in Santa Barbara and the Brooklyn Museum and a permanent commission in New York City through the New York Percent for Art.

Based in Chicago and New York, Michael Rakowitz's (born 1973, New York) art practice is characterized by its exploration of and symbolic interventions with problematic urban situations, as well as endeavors to make visible other urgent moments of silence, invisibility and marginality. In 1998, he initiated "paraSITE," an ongoing project in which the artist custom builds inflatable shelters for homeless people that attach to the exterior outtake vents of a building's heating, ventilation, or air conditioning system. Other recent projects include the public work, "Return," presented by Creative Time in New York; and "The Invisible Enemy Should Not Exist (Recovered, Missing, Stolen Series)." His work has been exhibited in venues worldwide including P.S. 1, Long Island City, N.Y.; the Museum of Modern Art, New York; MassMOCA, Boston; Castello di Rivoli,
Courtesy of Michael Rakowitz and Lombard-Freid Projects

"The Invisible Enemy Should Not Exist (Recovered, Missing, Stolen Series)" by Michael Rakowitz (2007)

Turin; and biennials and triennials including the 16th Biennale of Sydney, the 10th Istanbul Biennial, Sharjah Biennial 8, the Tirana Biennale, the National Design Triennial at the Cooper Hewitt, and Transmediale 05. He also has been the recipient of a number of prestigious international artist grants and fellowships, and has had numerous solo exhibitions at galleries and art spaces through the U.S. and Europe, including a forthcoming show at the Tate Modern in London.

Courtesy of Ryan Trecartin and Elizabeth Dee

"Re'Search Wait'S (Edit 1: Missing Re'Search Corruption Budget)" by Ryan Trecartin (2009)

Ryan Trecartin (born 1981, Webster, TX) lives and works in Philadelphia, where he structures his art practice in varying collaborative ways. Trecartin has established a singular video practice that, in both form and in function, advances understandings of post-millennial technology, narrative and identity, and also propels these matters as expressive mediums. His work depicts worlds where consumer culture is amplified and absorbed to absurd or nihilistic proportions where characters circuitously strive to find agency and meaning in their lives. The combination of assaultive, nearly impenetrable avant-garde logics and equally outlandish, virtuoso uses of color, form, drama and montage produces a sublime, stream-of-consciousness effect that feels bewilderingly true to life. In addition to his

work in video, Trecartin also has a collaborative sculpture practice with artist Lizzie Fitch. Trecartin’s work has been included in several major exhibitions and institutions worldwide, including the 2006 Whitney Biennial, New York; the J. Paul Getty Museum, Los Angeles; the Saatchi Gallery, London; and the Solomon R. Guggenheim Museum, New York.

About the inaugural competition

Created earlier this year by the real estate developer, banker and philanthropist Jack Wolgin of Philadelphia, the Jack Wolgin International Competition in the Fine Arts was established at the Tyler School to recognize an emerging artist with a significant studio practice who critically and creatively engages with existing histories and images, and whose work transcends traditional boundaries. Inspired by the diversity of Temple and its unique connection to the thriving art communities of Philadelphia, Wolgin chose the Tyler School to host and administer the competition.

Considered for the Jack Wolgin Competition were artists from around the world, working in painting, sculpture, drawing, printmaking, photography, ceramics, metals, glass and fibers, all forms of media that correlate to the diverse curriculum available at the Tyler School. Nominees were selected by a group of nine prominent international art world figures from museums and educational organizations, representing the range of media eligible for consideration. The 14 nominees were then invited to submit an application, which was reviewed by the three-person jury.

For more information on the Jack Wolgin International Competition in the Fine Arts and this year's finalists, please visit