October 7th, 2012

The Christo and Jeanne-Claude Award to promote creative expression in the UAE

World-renowned artist Christo (of Christo and Jeanne-Claude), the New York University Abu Dhabi (NYUAD) Institute, and the Abu Dhabi Music & Arts Foundation (ADMAF) today announced the establishment of the Christo and Jeanne-Claude Award, designed to encourage and celebrate the creation of new artwork in the United Arab Emirates. The award is open to full-time students currently enrolled in higher education institutions within the United Arab Emirates and residents who have graduated from a UAE university or college in the past five years.

Potential media can include, but are not limited to, painting, photography, sculpture, installation, land art, or video, and entrants are encouraged to think creatively about potential exhibition locations. Christo and Jeanne-Claude are well known for creating large-scale works that seamlessly integrate location and creative design. The artists have been active for more than half a century, and some of their most notable works include the wrapping of the Reichstag in Berlin and The Gates in Central Park, New York.

Her Highness Sheikha Shamsa Bint Hamdan Al Nahyan, Honorable Patron of ADMAF and Patron of the Christo and Jeanne-Claude Award, said: "As Oscar Wilde once stated, 'No great artist ever sees things as they really are.' Christo and Jeanne-Claude are great examples of true artists. The inspiration they embolden, through the concealment of well-known landscapes and buildings, enrich the beauty and appeal of these landmarks. I am confident that the Christo and Jeanne-Claude Award will encourage the creativity of students and touch their spirits so that they may deliver a unique artwork that is aligned with the advancement of Abu Dhabi's cultural vision."

The winner of the Christo and Jeanne-Claude Award will be presented USD 5,000 for the production of the proposed work, to be exhibited in 2013; additional funds will also be made available to support a tour of the solo exhibition in a number of locations. Selection will be by a committee of distinguished judges looking for proposals that demonstrate artistic merit and evidence of original and creative thinking, as well as those able to be produced and exhibited on time and within budget.

"The brilliance of Christo and Jeanne-Claude is their ability to bring art to the public on a truly massive scale, often transforming the way cities interact with and think about a specific medium, location, or landmark," Philip Kennedy, vice provost for Institute Public Programming at the NYUAD Institute, said. "It is this exuberance and appreciation for public works of art that we hope this award will help foster here in the UAE."

ADMAF Founder H.E. Mrs Hoda Al Khamis Kanoo said, "I'm very proud to be on the committee of the Christo and Jeanne-Claude Award, which to us is an important step forward in the development of arts in the UAE and underscores the importance of inspiring young, upcoming Emirati artists across the UAE. Christo remains one of the most influential and inspiring artists of his generation and the legacy of Christo and Jeanne-Claude will be preserved within this award, and will serve, we hope, as a launching pad for visual artists across the Emirates."

"I'm also proud of the strategic partnership that ADMAF has forged with NYUAD, a partnership that began in 2009 and has seen us work together on numerous exciting projects in the past three years, projects that have enabled us to influence issues in education and community development, and continue to create new horizons for young talent," she added.

Christo said: "Abu Dhabi's art and culture program is very important — creating beautiful art is the mark of a great civilization."

The application deadline for the award is November 15th, with the winning artist to be announced in December. Students must be nominated by a mentor or academic tutor, while recent graduates may apply either independently or with the support of a nominator. More information on the award and application process can be found here.