American Marketer

Arts and entertainment

Sotheby’s new prize to back trailblazing museum exhibits

May 9, 2017

Brice Marden's "Cold Mountain Series, Zen Study 1-6" was included in Sotheby's March 2 auction


International auction house Sotheby’s is pledging its support and encouragement of thought-provoking museum exhibitions and cultural initiatives through an annual prize.

The Sotheby’s Prize will be given in a sum of up to $250,000 to be used for funding for institutions, curators and museum directors’ ambitious projects. Nominees of the annual Sotheby’s Prize, as well as the inaugural winner, will be selected by a jury of esteemed art figures to help facilitate future trailblazing exhibitions and initiatives in the cultural field.

Supporting structures
The inaugural Sotheby’s Prize jury members represent a broad spectrum of cultures and disciplines to ensure that the nominees and eventual winner are on the pulse of “potentially landscape-changing efforts.”

Sotheby’s has selected Sir Nicholas Serota, chair of the Art Council England; Connie Butler, chief curator at the Hammer Museum in Los Angeles; Okwui Enwezor, director of the Haus der Kunst Museum in Munich, and Donna de Salvo, senior curator at the Whitney Museum of American Art in New York, as jurists.

Robin Woodhead, chairman of Sotheby's International, and Allan Schwartzman, chairman and executive vice president of Sotheby’s, developed the prize concept.

“While much of today’s relatively limited cultural funding gravitates, by necessity, toward crowd-pleasing, ‘sure sell’ projects and exhibitions, the Sotheby’s Prize aims to offer support for less obvious initiatives -- ones that reexamine in illuminating ways important art and periods, whether known but ripe for reevaluation, or more obscure but ready for deeper examination,” Mr. Schwartzman said in a statement.

“To my mind, while single-artist retrospectives and blockbuster thematic shows are important, it is nonetheless critical that the art-loving public has the opportunity to see and experience a full gamut of probing and paradigm-advancing shows,” he said.

Aside from supporting art institutions, Sotheby’s has implemented a number of strategies to connect consumers with the art world.

For example, Sotheby’s is building a highly in-tuned audience and notifying consumers of relevant happenings via an online platform partnership.

Through a partnership with the IoT platform IFTTT, Sotheby’s is allowing customers to customize notification settings so they can stay up to date with what is happening in the auction community. The platform integrates with major applications and other platforms, allowing users to set up a personalized experience for each app based on preference (see story).