Watch this space? Louvre Abu Dhabi and Richard Mille partner for new $50,000 art prize

Another day, another luxury brand sponsoring an art prize: this time it’s Louvre Abu Dhabi, partnering with Swiss watchmaker Richard Mille for The Richard Mille Art Prize – four to six shortlisted artists selected from an open call get an exhibition at the Louvre, and one winner takes home $50,000.

The exhibition, which is titled Louvre Abu Dhabi Art Here 2021, takes place in November – presumably coinciding with Abu Dhabi Art (opens 17 November). The art fair doesn’t seem to be explicitly associated with to the Louvre/Richard Mille venture despite its presence in the exhibition’s name.

The open call is for Emirati and UAE-based artists (in subsequent years it may be more international) and submissions should fit the theme of ‘Memory, Time and Territory’. That references the UAE’s Jubilee this year, encouraging artists “to reflect on the country’s legacy as a territory where questions of past, present and future combine and overlap”.

The exhibition and prize will be annual; apparently Richard Mille has committed to ten years of providing the cash prize.

Peter Harrison, CEO of Richard Mille EMEA (right, with watch), provided the obligatory shared-values remarks – “Richard Mille and Louvre Abu Dhabi are both built upon the tenets of excellence in innovation, artistry, mastery and savoir-faire” – but also suggested that the prize would serve to promote “the next generation of artistic talent” (which implies that it will be aimed at emergent artists rather than the big established names).

Manuel Rabaté, Louvre AD director, also came up with some interesting remarks for the press release. He talked about “a mutual, long-term commitment to supporting contemporary artistic talent within the UAE and this region” and “connecting Louvre Abu Dhabi to its territory … This initiative also represents a decisive step forward by Louvre Abu Dhabi into the arena of contemporary art, as we further expand on our mission to shine a light on the cultural connections which unite us all”.

The blurb for the exhibition takes this further: “we are creating a new stage at Louvre Abu Dhabi for our regional artists, giving them a platform to be seen and heard, and a space in which to express themselves and come together”. The museum has hitherto steered clear of living artists in its acquisition policy, and while there’s no suggestion that it will be adding Mille prizewinners to its permanent collection this does seem a sensible way to remove what might seem an artificial limitation on its coverage.

The Louvre Abu Dhabi Art Here 2021 exhibition will run from November 2021 to March 2022 and the deadline for submissions is 31 August. The shortlist will be announced in September, having been selected by “a jury of international art experts”; as yet we have no names, but the Louvre’s connections are of course excellent.

More information about the open call is here.

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