Carnegie Art Award Cancels Exhibition Tour

The programme for the Carnegie Art Award has been severely downscaled. In 2014 the cities of Copenhagen, Oslo, Reykjavik, and Helsinki will have to go without a visit from the hitherto touring award exhibition.

Nina Roos, Position and Reversals 1 / Chair in front of grey wall, 2007. Finske Nina Roos modtog Carnegie Art Award andenpris i 1998 og førstepris i 2004.
Nina Roos, Position and Reversals 1 / Chair in front of grey wall, 2007. Finnish artist Nina Roos received the Carnegie Art Award (Second Prize) in 1998 and First Prize in 2004.

With its First Prize of 1 million Swedish Kroner the Carnegie Art Award is one of the world’s largest art awards measured in terms of monetary value. On 14 November 2013 the award will be given for the 11th time since its inception in 1998 – this time in Stockholm at a ceremony held at the Royal Swedish Academy of Fine Arts.

And this year Stockholm is the place to be if you wish to enjoy works from the award-winning artists, with Dag Erik Elgin from Norway taking the coveted First Prize. For even though the Carnegie exhibition has traditionally toured the capitals of the participating Nordic countries, this year’s award exhibition will only be shown in Stockholm. The planned tour to Copenhagen, Oslo, Reykjavik, and Helsinki has been cancelled at relatively short notice.

Den Frie Udstillingsbygning in Copenhagen was supposed to be the first stop on the Carnegie exhibition tour after its Stockholm run; the Copenhagen visit was scheduled for January 2014. However, in August of 2013 Den Frie received a rather surprising message: the planned exhibition tour had been cancelled. This caused the venue to have a major hole within its exhibition schedule for January, although the gap has since then been filled in by a solo exhibition featuring the Danish artists’ group A Kassen; having received 3rd prize they were already scheduled to take up a large part of the venue’s exhibition space.

The reason behind the cancellation of the Carnegie exhibition tour is, according to Andreas Koch, Head of Communications with the Carnegie Investment Bank, the major restructurings undertaken since the new management of Carnegie took over in June of 2012. One of the changes introduced is that Carnegie Asset Management and the Carnegie Investment Bank are now separate units, which means that the Carnegie Investment Bank – the entity behind the art award – is significantly smaller than before.

Torsten Andersson, Madrass skulptur. The Swedish artist Torsten Andersson received the Carnegie Art Awards (First Prize) in 2008.
Torsten Andersson, Madrass skulptur. The Swedish artist Torsten Andersson received the Carnegie Art Awards (First Prize) in 2008.

”The restructuring meant that this year’s budget for the Carnegie Art Award was smaller than usual, prompting us to try to find sponsors to co-fund the project and ensure that the Carnegie exhibition could tour. Unfortunately no such sponsors have been found as yet, and so the solution chosen was to scale down the promotion activities surrounding the art award this year. We are very proud of the award and what it stands for, so we greatly look forward to presenting it yet again – even though it will, this time around, be presented in a somewhat reduced setting,” says Andreas Koch to Kunstkritikk.

The reduction in scale can only be called severe: instead of five international exhibitions we now have a single event held locally in Stockholm. However, Andreas Koch assures us that the main components of the Carnegie Art Award remain intact in 2014: the awards ceremony, the award itself, the book published in connection with the award, and the exhibition itself.

The assurances about the future of the Carnegie Art Awards are, however, accompanied by certain qualifying statements:

”Right now we are focusing on the award ceremony and the upcoming exhibition in Stockholm. We will address the exact format of the next cycle at a later date.”

So this is not the beginning of a gradual phase-out of the Carnegie Art Award?

”I have no reason to think so. The next Carnegie Art Award event will take place in 2016. I do not yet know the exact format of that event,” says Andreas Koch.

As yet, art audiences must wait patiently for Carnegie to present its future programme – and for seeing whether the exhibitions associated with this Nordic award will once again tour all the Nordic capitals in 2016.