Major new art prize, established by the Beckett Foundation with Copenhagen Contemporary, goes to Cathrine Raben Davidsen

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Major new art prize, established by the Beckett Foundation with Copenhagen Contemporary, goes to Cathrine Raben Davidsen
Cathrine Raben Davidsen, As above, so below (2022).

COPENHAGEN.- The Beckett Foundation, in partnership with Copenhagen Contemporary (CC), has established an art prize to be awarded annually to a Danish artist who has made an original contribution in the field of art. The first winner of the Beckett Prize is Cathrine Raben Davidsen, whose captivating, dreamlike paintings make up a singular personal universe exploring life, death, transformation and time.

The Beckett Prize is given annually to an artist working in Denmark who has made an original contribution in the field of art. The award recognizes that the artist, over a significant number of years, has developed a personal artistic language embodying qualities such as humanism, conceptual precision, skilled execution and immersion in materials and devices. The prize amounts to 250,000 kroner (37,000 euros).

Marie Laurberg, director of CC, says,
“As a society, we should celebrate our artists. Artists are our most sensitive seismographs, taking the pulse of life and society with their highly evolved antennae. Who are we? Where are we going? What does it all mean? CC is a centre for living artists. With the Beckett Foundation, we will use this prize to bring artists into the spotlight. The Danish art world today is bursting with talent, and we are delighted to showcase our artists, including internationally. We are thrilled to be giving the first Beckett Prize to Cathrine Raben Davidsen, one our greatest painters today. In an age of fast pictures that appear briefly on screens before being pushed aside and disappearing again, painting is slow, glacial even, and liberatingly analogue. Cultivating this slowness, Raben Davidsen painstakingly builds paintings layer by layer with her materials. Her pictures demand the viewer’s presence.”

Cathrine Raben Davidsen
Grounded in historical narratives, myth and literature, Raben Davidsen (b. 1972) investigates essential human traits through painting, drawing, printmaking and ceramics. In delicate lines and blurred contours, she creates compelling dream worlds enigmatically bridging past and present. There, the eye can rest – and explore infinity.

As an artist, Raben Davidsen has persistently cultivated deep time, unswayed by passing trends. Hers is a powerful voice for the importance to art of craft and immersion. In a distinctly personal way, her art filters big history through a powerful and moving visual vocabulary entirely her own.

In connection with the prize, a large monograph of Raben Davidsen’s paintings is being published, featuring an essay by Information art editor Maria Kjær Themsen, along with excerpts from the writings of Josefine Klougart and a conversation between Raben Davidsen and CC director Marie Laurberg, with graphic design by Studio Claus Due.

In memory of Paul Beckett
The Beckett Prize is awarded in memory of the painter Paul Beckett (1922-1994) and established on the centenary of his birth. Like Beckett, Raben Davidsen is captivated by the language of painting. Both are one-of-a-kind artists with great personal strength who march to the beat of their own drummer, in life and in art. Now, the prize is connecting them across time and space.

Michael Varming, director of the Beckett Foundation, says,
“The Beckett Foundation is established by an artist, the painter Paul Beckett, and his wife, Birte Beckett. We at the Foundation are proud to institute this prize in Paul’s name to celebrate visual art. And we are delighted that the prize is instituted in partnership with CC, Denmark’s largest institution of contemporary art. CC is contributing their art expertise to guarantee that artists will be supported in the best possible way.”

The Prize was awarded for the first time on 1 December 2022, and in the future will be awarded annually at CC. The first recipient of the prize, Cathrine Raben Davidsen, is selected by the Beckett Foundation’s board. In coming years, the prizewinner will be selected by a jury of curators from leading European art institutions. In turn, the prize will help raise international awareness of contemporary Danish art. The jury selects the prizewinner based on recommendations by an independent search committee.

For the next four years, the Beckett Prize Jury will consist of:
Marie Laurberg, Director, Copenhagen Contemporary
Hendrik Folkerts, Curator of International Contemporary Art and Head of Exhibitions, Moderna Museet, Stockholm
Cathérine Hug, Curator, Kunsthaus Zürich
Cliff Lauson, Director of Exhibitions, Somerset House, London.

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