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The Prix Visarte 2017: an award for public art


The Prix Visarte 2017: an award for public art

The Prix Visarte, Switzerland’s prize for outstanding projects in the areas of art and construction/public art, was awarded for the second time on 8 September in Basel. The award is endowed by the Julius Baer Foundation.

No fewer than 124 works were entered into the 2017 Prix Visarte. Five winners were chosen by an independent, interdisciplinary jury made up of Katya García-Antón (curator, Oslo), Gabrielle Hächler (architect, Zurich), Etienne Lullin (gallery owner, Zurich), Josef Felix Müller (artist, chairman of visarte.schweiz, St. Gallen) and Claudia Müller (artist, Basel) and chaired by Christoph Doswald (curator, member of the board of visarte.schweiz).

The winners’ spectacular and pioneering art projects were announced at the awards ceremony on 8 September 2017 at the Kunsthalle Basel.

The 2017 Prix Visarte went to Vera Marke for her work ‘Triade’ (‘triad’) in Gasthaus Krone in Hundwil and to Florian Graf for his piece ‘weg weisend’ (‘trailblazing’) in Zug, with both winners receiving CHF 10,000. Curator Simon Lamunière received a special mention for his project ‘Neon Parallax’ in Geneva.

Vera Marke: Triade

The jury chose to honour Vera Marke for the approach she takes to the medium of painting. Florian Graf received his award for his critical questioning of the famed concepts of the French Revolution – ‘liberté’, ‘égalité’ and ‘fraternité’. ‘Neon Parallax’ is a public art project spanning four phases over 15 years. Set to conclude in 2022, it includes contributions from artists of international repute.

Florian Graf: weg weisend

The first-ever Prix Visarte Historique was awarded this year for projects created between 2000 and 2009. This award, also worth CHF 10,000, went to George Steinmann for ‘Das Werk Saxeten, eine wachsende Skulptur’ (‘The Saxeten work, a growing sculpture’), a ‘research project on the possibility of future-proof art and building interventions’.

George Steinmann: Das Werk Saxeten, eine wachsende Skulptur

A Prix Visarte D’Honneur was also awarded for the first time to a work which the jury judged to be unrivalled and therefore worthy of its very own category. It went to the stained glass windows designed by Sigmar Polke for the Grossmünster in Zurich and dedicated in 2009.

Sigmar Polke: stained glass windows at Grossmünster in Zurich

The Prix Visarte grew out of Switzerland’s building boom, which has formed the background to many groundbreaking works of art in recent years. The award is designed to increase awareness and appreciation of these projects throughout the country. The Prix Visarte also now represents a seal of quality that honours outstanding works of art every two years. A comprehensive public database that connects up everyone involved is being created alongside the prize.

Simon Lamunière:  Neon Parallax

The Prix Visarte was launched by visarte.schweiz, the industry association for the visual arts founded in 1866. And, with the Federation of Swiss Architects FSA coming on board as a patron, another professional association working in this field is making a commitment to promoting art. The Julius Baer Foundation donated the 2017 Prix Visarte.

„The Julius Baer Foundation endows the Prix Visarte for the second time. We hope that we can contribute to draw the public attention on unique projects of innovative artists in Switzerland,“ says Thomas R. Meier, president of the Julius Baer Foundation.


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