First Annual Art Award Winners Are Surprising (Happily So)

10/30/2009 11:02 AM |

Art Awards statuette

Last night marked the art world’s first (long overdue) foray into the always dubious business of the gala awards ceremony, with the Guggenheim hosting the First Annual Art Awards, with celeb artist creator Rob Pruitt, scenester-y MCs the Delusional Downtown Divas, and a ridiculous set of celebrity presenters (James Franco, Kylie Minogue, Julianne Moore, etc.). And, though it’s silly to say this after the inaugural show, the winners proved to be very well-chosen and when they defied expectations did so in the best of ways.

Not only did several of my predictions pan out—Ryan Trecartin took Best New Artist, Who’s Afraid of Jasper Johns? took best gallery group show, The Pictures Generation took best museum group show—but a few of my merit-based “should win” predictions prevailed: Martin Kippenberger’s MoMA retrospective took the award for best solo museum show, and the Pier Manzoni show at Gagosian won best solo gallery exhibition. The surprises were the best part though: Connie Butler of MoMA took curator of the year, and Mary Heilmann won artist of the year, which is truly a beautiful upset. All in all a very promising start to an annual art world tradition. (And as with all award shows, it’s never too early to make wild predictions: Marina Abramović for artist of the year in 2010!)