Re-emphasizing storytelling in American Art
AXA XL expands support for art and emerging artists
Art and artists evolve, introducing new movements through differing approaches. One such movement is figurative art. According to the Tate Gallery, figurative art is any form of modern art that retains strong references to the real world and particularly to the human figure. The term has been particularly used since the arrival of abstract art to refer to artists that retain aspects of the real world as their subject matter.
The re-emergence of figurative art in the US
As late Modernism progressed, art making became more and more reductive. Storytelling, personal narrative and technical training became almost obsolete. And while movements like the Chicago Imagists and the Bay Area Funk scene embraced figuration, they remained at the margins of the larger art world and reveled in their outsider status.
As New York artists continued to move away from metaphor and storytelling, artists from Europe gave momentum to figurative movements including the Transavanguardia and the Neo-Expressionists in the 1970s and 80s. But even these movements were largely preoccupied with finding the authentic in the deskilled.
It is within this context of what was perceived as a decline in figurative art training and artistry, that in 1982 a group of artists, scholars and patrons of the arts, including Andy Warhol, founded the New York Academy of Art to foster a re-emergence in the training of figurative and representational art.
Fast forward to 2018 and a global commercial insurer (AXA XL) has partnered with one of the leading figurative art institutions in the country (the New York Academy of Art) to create one of the United States’ premier student art competitions seeking to discover emerging artists across the country.
AXA XL and the New York Academy of Art, which have had a long relationship through fine art insurance and risk management, together saw an opportunity to continue a legacy of supporting art internationally by launching the U.S. competition. Although other student art competitions existed, none was specifically focused on figurative and representational art.
The XL Catlin Art Prize was launched in December 2017 to recognize and exhibit works by art students in the U.S. The prize complements previous programs and exhibitions that the company sponsored internationally and is intended to bring more attention to figurative art and emerging artists, in effect re-emphasizing the role of personal storytelling, craft and complexity.
The nationwide competition was open to currently enrolled undergraduate and graduate students majoring in art and focused on two-dimensional figurative and representational art. Over 700 submissions were received and regional and exhibition juries selected the 40 student artists that toured the country in the travelling XL Catlin Art Prize exhibition.
The top 40 artists were selected by an Exhibition Jury comprised of Ian Alteveer, Curator at the Metropolitan Museum of Art, Jennie Goldstein, Assistant Curator at the Whitney Museum, Laura Hoptman, Curator at the Museum of Modern Art, and Kara Vander Weg, Director at Gagosian Gallery.
After showing in San Francisco and Chicago, the exhibition wraps-up its inaugural year in the U.S. with the announcement of the first and second prize winners in New York on November 28. The winners have been chosen by renowned artists Nicole Eisenman, Eric Fischl and Amy Sherald, and Jennifer Schipf, Senior Vice President for Fine Art & Specie insurance at AXA XL.