Organizers of the Vincent Van Gogh Biennial Award — known as the Vincent Award — have cancelled this year’s edition of the contemporary art prize, presented biennially since 2000 to a mid-career artist who lives and/or works in Europe. According to an announcement on the award website, the withdrawal of two of the five candidates led to the decision. German artist Jutta Koether and Iranian artist Nairy Baghramian rejected their nominations in January, less than two months after learning that the international jury had shortlisted them.
As Hyperallergic previously reported, Koether withdrew for personal reasons, but Baghramian took issue with the Gemeentemuseum Den Haag’s role as the host of the award. She noted her unease with the Dutch museum’s involvement in the lengthy legal and soap opera–esque saga between Danish-Vietnamese artist Danh Vō and Dutch collector Bert Kreuk. “Based on my insights, it seems safe to say that the museum didn’t assume a neutral stance in the private confrontation between two parties, but rather played an active role in this legal dispute,” Baghramian told Hyperallergic at the time.
“The news of the withdrawals precipitated a lot of discussion about this particular dispute, which the museum merely witnessed; it was never a party to the dispute,” the award committee states online. “The jury believes that the recent discussion has overshadowed the intentions of the award and could eventually comprise the nominated artists. After close consultations with the Broere Charitable Foundation, the jury has decided to cancel The Vincent Award 2016.”
The jurors were slated to announce the winner of the award in November; a new edition will occur in 2018.
Update, 4/11: Hyperallergic contacted Benno Tempel, the award’s chair and director of the Gemeentemuseum, who commented:
It is the strong idea of the jury that the Vincent should be about art. But that was not the case any longer. The jury felt that it should be about the nominated artists and their work. We felt that if we continued, it would not do justice to the importance of the nominated artists, their work, the Vincent Award, and art in general.