I'm not fond of art prizes because they tend to reduce art to fashion and celebrity, but the recently launched Art Prize isn't catering to the rich and famous. Now entering its second year, Art Prize is the largest cash award to a single artist ($250,000 for first place) and the winner is selected by the crowd. 37264 registered online voters selected ten prize winners in 2009.
Here's how it works.
"At ArtPrize, any artist—from established to emerging—has the chance to show work. Any visitor can vote. The vote will determine who wins the largest art prize in the world...There is not one official curator or jury for the competition...In ArtPrize 2009, Ran Ortner of Brooklyn, N.Y. captured the top prize of $250,000 for his work Open Water No. 24. The second-place award of $100,000 went to Tracy Van Duinen from Chicago for Imagine That! and the third-place award of $50,000 went to Eric Daigh from Traverse City, Mich. for Portraits. The remaining entries in the top 10 received $7,000.
ArtPrize is not anti-jury, anti-curator, anti-establishment or anti-anything else. We do not believe that we have contrived the "best" way to discover the "best" art. The prize money, the public vote, the open venue system simply creates an environment where public can engage artist and artist can engage public in a fresh way. To us, it's an irresistible social experiment."
I'm not certain that Art Prize will revolutionize artmaking, but it's certainly a refreshing approach to giving away money; it adds visibility and value to the creative process, and let's everyone get in on what's generally by invitation only. The 2010 round runs September 22 – October 10!