The winner of the fourth Max Mara Art Prize for Women was announced last night at the Italian Embassy in London. Laure Prouvost, whose work includes film, performance and installation art, was chosen from a shortlist of five artists for her 'gripping short films and intriguing environments'. The prize, awarded in collaboration with the Whitechapel Gallery, serves to promote female artists based in the United Kingdom.
As part of the biannual prize, which was established by the Maramotti family (who own the Max Mara brand), Prouvost will now embark on a two-part six month residency in Italy - splitting her time between the American Academy in Rome and the Pistoletto Foundation in Biella.
Featured in W*105, artist Michaelangelo Pistoletto's foundation, known officially as the Cittadellarte, is one part multi-disciplinary art school, one part Utopian community and one part ideas laboratory. It is founded on Pistoletto's belief that art should impact every aspect of society.
Max Mara has a long tradition of supporting the arts. The brand, founded by Achille Maramotti, even has its own art museum; the Maramotti Collection in northern Italy's Reggio Emilia, as seen in W*120, houses an impressive collection of artworks.
Whitechapel Gallery director Iwona Blazwick said that one of the prizes aims is to 'promote a strong relationship' between the fashion brand, the winning artist and the gallery across Europe. Blazwick once again presided over this year's judging panel - comprising the 'gate keepers of the art world,' as she puts it. Among the judges were Lisa Milroy; collector Muriel Salem; gallerist Amanda Wilkinson and critic and lecturer Gilda Williams, who all spent 'a glorious day' discussing the shortlist of five artists (a departure from last year's shortlist of three). The four runners up are Spartacus Chetwynd, Christina Mackie, Avis Newman and Emily Wardill.
Prouvost, speaking candidly at the awards ceremony of her win, said: 'Thank you to England for adopting me and Italy for inviting me'. Following the six month stint, the French-born London-based artist will show her resulting work at the Maramotti Collection and the Whitechapel Gallery in 2013.