Elmgreen & Dragset: 14th Robert Jacobsen Prize of the Würth Foundation

Museum Würth 2, 5 October 2021 - 6 February 2022


The Berlin-based Scandinavian artist duo Elmgreen & Dragset was awarded the Robert Jacobsen Prize 2021 of the Würth Foundation in Künzelsau on Monday, 4 October. In his laudatory speech at the award ceremony, Prof. Dr. Bernhard Maaz, Director General of the Bavarian State Painting Collections and member of the Art Advisory Board of the Würth Group said: "Their multifaceted work oscillates between seriousness and absurdity. The works show a high social relevance and extreme urgency".

On the occasion of the award ceremony, Museum Würth 2, in cooperation with the artists, will present an exhibition by the globally celebrated duo in the house's Belvedere and in the sculpture garden around Carmen Würth Forum in Künzelsau until 6 February 2022.

Artistic projects that raise questions about identity and belonging as well as social, cultural and political structures, and on top of that make it into the pop-cultural reference room, are the trademark of Elmgreen & Dragset (Michael Elmgreen, born in Copenhagen in 1961 and Ingar Dragset, born in Trondheim in 1969). "Prada Marfa", the true-to-scale replica of a boutique of the fashion company Prada, which they built in 2005 in the middle of the Texan desert, fits seamlessly into this realm of interpretation.

The artist duo works with built spaces, installation elements and sculptures. Their works often refer to the formal language of minimalism. However, by incorporating everyday objects, which breathe a narrative dimension into their works, they create closeness to life. When—as can currently be experienced on the piazza in front of Museum Würth 2—in an absurdly pointed image they insert an ATM into an original concrete segment of the Berlin Wall and call this a "Statue of Liberty", they not only thwart the common narrative of liberation from all evil, but also comment on the sell-out of history and the city.

In their balcony sculpture "The Observer", to be experienced in the Belvedere of Museum Würth 2, which skillfully plays on the threshold between privacy and the public sphere, an Everyman in casual leisurewear looks from a balcony down on the onlookers. Even though he hardly seems to be emotionally involved, he has obviously leaned over the railing specifically to see what is going on below him. The exhibited person thus becomes an observer himself and the balcony, once a bourgeois stage, becomes a cipher of lonely apartment-cell anonymity, which makes the work of Elmgreen & Dragset subject in a strangely captivating manner.

The exhibition "Elmgreen & Dragset. 14th Robert Jacobsen Prize of the Würth Foundation" at Museum Würth 2, Künzelsau can be seen daily from 11 am to 6 pm until 6 February. Admission is free.

The Robert Jacobsen Prize

After the death of the sculptor Robert Jacobsen in 1993, the Würth Foundation, in cooperation with Museum Würth, offered the Robert Jacobsen Prize as a reward. The award in memory of Robert Jacobsen’s work and artistic influence is presented to a contemporary artist every two years. After their first accidental encounter in the 1970s, the Danish sculptor and the art collector Prof. Dr. h. c. mult. Reinhold Würth, became long-standing friends. In 1991, Jacobsen had completed his largest sculpture installation on the forecourt of the Würth Group's new administration building, which has shaped the appearance of the Group's headquarters ever since. The Robert Jacobsen Prize is now endowed with EUR 50,000.

In 2018/19, Eva Rothschild was awarded the prize, in 2016/17 Yngve Holen, in 2014/15 Michael Sailstorfer, in 2012 Jeppe Hein, in 2010 Alicja Kwade, in 2008 Monika Sosnowska, in 2005/6 Bernar Venet, in 2003 Rui Chafes, in 2001 Stephan Kern, in 1999 Gereon Lepper, in 1997 Magdalena Jetelová, in 1995 Richard Deacon and in 1993 Lun Tuchnowski.

In 2021, the international jury of the 14th Robert Jacobsen Prize was reconstituted and now consists of the following members: Dr. Christoph Becker, Director of Kunsthaus Zürich; Dr. Philipp Demandt, Director of Städel Museum, Liebieghaus and Schirn Kunsthalle, Frankfurt; Prof. Dr. Michael Eissenhauer, Director General of Staatliche Museen zu Berlin; Fabrice Hergott, Director of Musée d'Art moderne de Paris; Prof. Dr. Bernhard Maaz, Director General of Bavarian State Painting Collections, Munich, together with the previous prizewinner Eva Rothschild, and on behalf of the Würth Collection represented by C. Sylvia Weber, Director of the Würth Collection, and Maria Würth, Member of the board of the Würth Foundation.

On the occasion of the award, Swiridoff-Verlag will publish a work on Elmgreen & Dragset with a contribution by Bernhard Maaz at a price of EUR 12.80.

The Würth Foundation

Prof. Dr. h. c. mult. Reinhold and Carmen Würth established the Würth Foundation in 1987. It is a civil law foundation based in Künzelsau, Germany, and promotes charitable and benevolent purposes. The Würth Foundation promotes projects in the fields of art and culture, research and science, education and training, as well as integration—primarily in the Hohenlohe region, the home of the Würth Group. The projects of the Würth Foundation are supported by the German Würth Group companies, in particular Adolf Würth GmbH & Co. KG.

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