An Inside Eye: The Genesis of Young Masters

As we eagerly anticipate an announcement from our judging panel, revealing which artists have been shortlisted for the Fourth edition of the Young Masters Prize, I reflect back to where it all began.

I first encountered the Young Masters Art Prize in 2009, when I was offered the chance to produce some film-footage covering the exhibition setup and prize opening in the Old Truman Brewery. At the time, aged 17 and studying for my impending A-level Exams, I was delighted to break routine and immerse myself in the excitement surrounding the talent of Young Masters Artists. I had the privilege of filming the vacant venue space as it came to life, filled with colourful and vibrant artwork. My fondest memory was watching Ghost of a Dream cast their magic to fulfil their extraordinary vision of a lottery ticket installation in the space, ‘Dream Home,’ 2009. I can clearly recall the quiet whispering of decision-making between the pair as they discussed and fine-tuned their ticket placements between bouts of frenzied activity. The space had been filled with such heights of metallic, bright colour, and yet carried the eeriness of something more ominous – the tangible weight of broken dreams. The art duo proceeded to win the Prize and contribute to the following 2012 Young Masters Art Prize as judges.

Other highlights have included David Roche and his Pillar of Society, beautiful hair sculptures with decadent wooden vessels by Antonia Tibble, hidden jewels protruding from Maisie Broadhead’s photographs and missing characters from iconic scenes in Charlotte Bracegirdle’s paintings.

From the genesis of Young Masters in 2009, to the Fourth edition of the Prize today, I have witnessed a growing scope and talent of artists. The previous Young Masters and new applicants continue to prove strong that the concerns, ideals and truths pursued the Old Masters run parallel through the practices of artists today. The reverence and irreverence to artistic forbearers, shared concerns and artistic challenges carry as much significance today as they have ever before.

Image Credits: Dream Home, 2009, 102″ high x variable dimensions, $70,000 worth of discarded lottery tickets, cardboard, foam, wood, and steel. Courtesy of Ghost of a Dream.

By Phoebe Walsh, Young Masters Art Prize 2009 – present.


Young Masters: The afterlife of the Prix de Rome and the Salon de Paris

As the Young Masters Call for Artists comes to a close and the deadline for applications fast approaches, we cast a look back at the history of the European art prize to recognise Young Masters as a reinterpretation and revivification this great tradition.

With a spring call for entries, followed by a summer touring exhibition, Young Masters bares semblance to the format of the most prestigious and acclaimed art prizes throughout history.

The multi-disciplinary scope of Young Masters, welcoming artists working in all media, from engraving to performance to Virtual Reality, has roots in the award structure of the 17th century Prix de Rome. Just as the Prix de Rome honored the work of painters, sculptors and architects with individual prize strands categorised by media, Young Masters exercises an inclusive, non-hierarchical approach to the arts. The Young Masters Maylis Grand Ceramics Prize represents a separate platform for ceramics and celebrates the creativity, innovation and excellence of this artistic medium.

The Salon de Paris, beginning in 1667, was the official art exhibition of the Académie des Beaux-Arts in Paris and in its heyday, held in the Palace of the Louvre, came to be arguably the greatest annual or biennial art event in the Western world. Exhibition at the Salon de Paris was essential for any artist to reach acclaim in France for at least 200 years. Today, Young Masters represents a gateway for emerging artists towards success in the art world; past alumni have gone on to practice and exhibit internationally.

The Salon exhibited paintings floor-to-ceiling, covering every available inch of wall space. This jostling of artwork became the subject of many paintings and it pervades to the iconic curatorial style of The Royal Academy Summer Exhibition, London. Previous Young Masters exhibitions also borrowed from the liveliness of the “Salon-hanging”. This Summer, Shortlisted Artists are given the opportunity to exhibit in the heart of London’s St James.

You can find a comprehensive exhibition program here.

There’s still time to APPLY! Applications for the Fourth Edition of the Young Masters Art Prize and the Young Masters Maylis Grand Ceramics Prize are open until 31st March 2017.

Image Credit: Lluís BarbaGallery of Views of Modern Rome. Giovanni Paolo Pannini, 2012. C-type print, Perspex mounted. 182.1 x 235.5 cm. 71 3/4 x 92 3/4 in. Edition of 6.

The Judges: Introducing Nadja Swarovski

We are delighted to announce that Nadja Swarovski will be joining the judging panel for the first edition of the Young Masters Emerging Woman Art Prize 2017.

Nadja Swarovski is the first female Member of the Executive Board of Swarovski, the world’s leading crystal manufacturer. She is the great-great-granddaughter of Daniel Swarovski, who founded the company in the Austrian alps in 1895. Today Swarovski turns over €3.2 billion a year.


Nadja has driven a program of creative collaborations that have revitalized the company over the past 20 years. As well as leading the company’s global branding and communications, she has commissioned new installations, artworks and products celebrating crystal that have continually positioned Swarovski at the vanguard of creative and lifestyle trends. From Alexander McQueen to Daniel Libeskind, the relationships she has built with figures in the worlds of fashion and jewellery, design and architecture, film and art, have established her as one of the world’s leading creative patrons. Nadja also oversees Swarovski’s Corporate Social Responsibility initiatives and philanthropic programs, and chairs the Swarovski Foundation.

In fashion, Nadja has built on Swarovski’s legacy of collaborating with the industry’s leading lights and emerging talents, implementing groundbreaking designer support and catwalk initiatives including the Swarovski Collective (founded in 1999), and Runway Rocks (founded in 2003).

In design, Nadja launched Swarovski Crystal Palace in 2002, an initiative that pushed the boundaries of lighting through collaborations with designers in the medium of crystal. The resulting body of work offered a snapshot of the most exciting creative minds of the modern era, including Zaha Hadid, John Pawson, Tom Dixon, Ross Lovegrove, Arik Levy and Yves Béhar.

In 2007 Nadja developed Atelier Swarovski, a cutting-edge jewelry and accessories line featuring collaborations with designers including Christopher Kane, Viktor & Rolf, Jean Paul Gaultier and Karl Lagerfeld. Atelier Swarovski was joined in 2016 by Atelier Swarovski Home, a home décor brand created in partnership with innovators such as Daniel Libeskind, Ron Arad, Tord Boontje, Fredrikson Stallard and rising stars Raw Edges.

Nadja has also strengthened Swarovski’s relationship with the film industry through partnerships with costume and set designers. Swarovski crystals have been featured in movies including The Young Victoria, Black Swan and Skyfall. In the music industry she has overseen collaborations with costume designers for performers such as Beyoncé, Taylor Swift, Jennifer Lopez and Madonna.

Since 2012 Nadja has led Swarovski’s Corporate Social Responsibility strategy, ensuring that ethical and environmental standards are embedded in the company’s business practices as it pursues its aim of becoming a world leader in sustainable luxury. She is an Ambassador for Women for Women International, and under her leadership Swarovski has signed up to the UN Women’s Empowerment Principles and the UN Global Compact.

Nadja chairs the Swarovski Foundation, which she established to consolidate the company’s long-term commitment to charitable giving. With a focus on education, the Foundation supports projects that foster creativity and culture, meet social needs and promote wellbeing, and conserve natural resources. The Foundation has supported projects that include the restoration of the San Giorgio statue at the Basilica di San Giorgio Maggiore in Venice, the new Swarovski Foundation Centre for Learning at the Design Museum in London, Women for Women International and Water Aid.

Born in Germany, Nadja is an Austrian and American citizen, and was educated in Europe and the US. After graduating from the Southern Methodist University in Dallas in 1992, she completed a graduate course in Fine and Decorative Arts at Sotheby’s in New York. She is currently based in London.

Artists are invited to apply now to Young Masters Art Prize in 2017. Applications open until 31 March 2017.