Oliver Jones, Untitled, 2015 (detail) - Highly Commended Prize 2014

In 2008, respected gallerist Cynthia Corbett had the idea of establishing the Young Masters Art Prize with the aim of celebrating artists who pay homage to the skill and traditions of the past; knowing that young artists today are not afraid, unlike their predecessors, to look back at art history and its lessons.

The rise in interest and references to the art historical past by artists and institutions, is a testament to the growing trend within the artistic community in embracing the past and drawing inspiration from the Old Masters.  There are now numerous examples of the contemporary being inspired by the past, including the 54th Venice Biennale (2011), where works by Titian were exhibited alongside contemporary artworks, the emergence of the inaugural Frieze Masters 2012, and most recently at Art Basel 2012. Both the academic art world and commercial dealers are recognizing the significance of the growing interest in the past by contemporary artistic practitioners.

The Young Masters Art Prize operates as a not-for-profit initiative of the Cynthia Corbett Gallery, and is recognized as an exciting, high profile competition that is highly innovative in its concept – to recognize contemporary art that embraces its past.

Artists are selected for their appropriation of an element of the established art-historical canon; either through technique, imagery or subject, whilst establishing an undeniably contemporary spin on highly revered paintings. By placing these contemporary works firmly in contrast to the existing art-historical canon, the Young Masters Art Prize is both unique and ground-breaking.

In 2014, a second strand of the Prize was launched – the Young Masters Maylis Grand Ceramics Prize – to give a separate platform for ceramics and reflect the creativity, innovation and excellence of this artistic medium.


The Cynthia Corbett Gallery
The Cynthia Corbett Gallery, an international contemporary art gallery represents emerging and newly established artists and is a regular exhibitor at major international contemporary art fairs and has an annual programme of exhibitions that take place throughout the year in London and New York.

corbettPROJECTS launched in 2004, focuses on presenting curated projects that address contemporary critical practice and works with emerging curators and artists. corbettPROJECTS presents an innovative programme of events in a variety of media with a particular emphasis on video art. In 2009 the Gallery launched the Young Masters Art Prize sponsored by AXA UK. The Young Masters Art Prize 2012 was launched in Spring 2012 as a not-for-profit initiative presented by The Cynthia Corbett Gallery.