With Swedish design team Gunnat Broman and Hans Brindorfs’s original (and classic) 1979 bottle as a starting point, we watched as Absolut collaborated with contemporary artists on a heady portfolio of diverse and impactful work spanning painting, graphic art, photography, furniture, fashion and music.

In 2009, we drank in Absolut’s minimal twist on the bottle, leaving it entirely label-less for a limited edition that gave subtle but powerful support to the oft-beleaguered LGBTQI community. The message being – regardless of what’s on the outside, it’s the inside that really matters.

Our heads were spinning for Ron Arad’s ‘Absolut Restless Bar’ installation at London’s Barbican. Inspired by the subtly playful interactions between form and movement, the bar made an almost imperceptible 360-degree rotation every ten minutes. Then, at Art Basel 2014, we enjoyed immaculate table service when Absolut chose performance artist Ana Prvacki to craft a spirit-lifting concoction for guests. Touching on concepts of etiquette and desire, the artist’s tipple was laden with rich ingredients and subversive meanings; clay-infused Absolut vodka, honey, soda and nine drops of a secret tincture that she commissioned from an alchemist. 

But Absolut’s connection to the art world actually goes back even further. In 1985 Absolut commissioned a series of major contemporary artists to create interpretations of their iconic vodka bottle. The artist collaboration would be the beginning of one of the most successful and long running advertising campaigns of the 20th and 21st centuries with Absolut signing up the likes of Keith Haring, Mariscal and Ed Ruscha. In the following decades more than 550 talents from around the world – Damien Hirst, Rosemarie Trockel, Helmut Newton, Javier Mariscal, Maurizo Cattelan, Louise Bourgeois and many, many more – have been commissioned to make over 800 Absolut artworks.

‘Absolut Mariscal’ was created by Spanish artist Javier Mariscal in 1999

Now, with the launch of the Absolut Creative Competition in 19 countries across the world, the project is opening up to an even wider talent pool. 

The project’s mission? To provide a platform for creatives to share their voice. The competition will celebrate creativity and harness the power artists have to envision and contribute to a better tomorrow. Giving voice, life, interpretation and expression to Absolut’s unique values the competition will encourage a more open, equal and inclusive world.

The Absolut Creative Competition winner will be selected by a global jury and see their work amplified on Absolut’s social media and digital channels and displayed on an iconic outdoor advertising site such as Piccadilly Circus, London or Times Square, New York. The winning artist will also receive a €20,000 cash prize, and will be revealed at a global event in May 2019 in Stockholm.

The global jury selected to judge the competition includes Mickalene Thomas, the iconic New York-based visual artist, famous for her paintings that combine art-historical, political, and pop-cultural references. Her work introduces complex notions of femininity and challenges common definitions of beauty and aesthetic representations of women. ‘After first imagining “better days” for my own Art Basel installation with Absolut, I cannot wait to see what visions of a “better tomorrow” look like from around the world,’ says Thomas.

‘Absolut Cattelan’ was created by Italian artist Maurizio Cattelan in 1998

Accompanying her is Aaron Cezar, the founding director of the London-based Delfina Foundation, a meeting point and incubator of creative talent, forming partnerships with leading institutions internationally. Artist and independent curator, Bose Krishnamachari, completes the global judge line-up. Living between Mumbai and Kochi, he co-created India’s first Biennale – the Kochi‑Muziris Biennale 2012. He is also a curator at the Yinchuan Biennale in China. Bose is known for his colourful and vivid paintings that have been exhibited in several solo and group exhibitions including Bombay Maximum City.

Summarising the ethos of the competition, Sina Neubrandt, senior global marketing manager, says: ‘Creativity can spark conversation and drive change. This is why Absolut’s latest campaign celebrates the power that creativity has for making a real difference in the world. We’re excited to see the entries and celebrate the winner in May.’

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