The Vincent Van Gogh Biennial Award for Contemporary Art in Europe – known for short as ‘the Vincent Award’ – is one of the world’s leading contemporary art prizes. It is awarded to a mid-career artist who lives and/or works in Europe and whose work is regarded as influential on international developments in contemporary art. Winners of the Vincent Award are invariably well-known artists who exhibit in major international museums around the world. The past winners are Eija-Liisa Ahtila (2000), Neo Rauch (2002), Pawel Althamer (2004), Wilhelm Sasnal (2006), Deimantas Narkevičius (2008) and Anri Sala (2014).
Since 2014 the award ceremony for the biennial prize has been held at the Gemeentemuseum Den Haag. An international jury chaired by the Gemeentemuseum’s director, Benno Tempel, selects five nominees from a longlist of artists supplied by a group of correspondents from around Europe. Each nominee produces an artwork or installation for inclusion in the Vincent Award exhibition, to be held in the annex of the Gemeentemuseum specially devoted to the art of today (GEM. Museum of Contemporary Art). The jury presents the € 50,000 prize to the winner at a major award ceremony held at the Gemeentemuseum. The prize money can be used as the winner sees fit.
The Vincent Award is affiliated to the Monique Zajfen Collection. This is one of the Netherlands’ most significant private collections of contemporary art and includes works both by winners of the Vincent Award and by renowned artists like Marlene Dumas, Luc Tuymans, Thomas Schütte and Stephan Balkenhol. The Gemeentemuseum has been granted the Monique Zajfen Collection on long-term loan and draws on it and on its own collection to mount exhibitions in a dedicated space within the Gemeentemuseum (the Vincent Award Room).
The Vincent Award is regarded internationally as among the world’s leading contemporary art prizes. The winners’ work reflects recent developments in the international art world. At first, for example, the nominated artists tended to come from Eastern Europe – a direct consequence of the lifting of the Iron Curtain and the resulting ferment in the Eastern European art world. In 2014, by contrast, all the nominees came from Western Europe. In that sense, the Vincent Award is a biennial finger on the pulse of the international contemporary art world. It is also a bridge between the Dutch art world and the international playing field.
The Vincent Award was launched by the Broere Foundation in 2000. It was established in memory of Monique Zajfen, a beloved friend of the Broere family and former holder of Galerie 121 in Antwerp. It was her commitment to and passion for contemporary art that inspired the Broere Foundation to institute the award and to seek to encourage artistic talent in Europe. The purpose of the Vincent Award is not only to support European talent, but also to promote communication in a free, united and peaceful Europe.