Intended as a leg-up for young graduates who have studied the visual arts and media art at a Swiss art school, the award first launched in 2004 underscores Helvetia’s long-standing commitment to Swiss art. The prize is reserved for young artists just at the start of their career and while the focus of Helvetia's own collection of contemporary Swiss art – which incidentally counts among the most important of its kind – is on painting, drawing, and photography, the Helvetia Art Prize is not restricted to those disciplines. Its purpose is to bring the ideas and art forms of the next generation of artists to the public’s attention. The Helvetia Art Prize comes with prize money of CHF 15,000 as well as the chance to stage a show at the international art fair LISTE – Art Fair Basel.
The 2019 Helvetia Art Prize goes to Kaspar Ludwig (*1989). He holds a Master’s degree in fine arts from the Academy of Art and Design in Basel. In his artistic endeavours, Kaspar Ludwig works in a variety of media. In his award-winning work "Why should I buy pillows when All I want Is sleep" he presents a floor and sound installation comprising several pillow sculptures made of sheets of metal which are inflated with compressed air. The same sheets of metal are used at the Carrara quarry, where they are inserted into the cracks in the stone and filled with water in order to break off pieces of the marble under high pressure. The sculptures convey an ambivalence: on the one hand the pillow symbolizes peace, softness and comfort, on the other hand, they have the potential to explode as part of the creative process. The recording devices attached to the pillows capture the ambient noises and amplify them via a sound system, thus making it possible to experience latent energies. Kaspar Ludwig impressed the jury with this precise spatial installation and by combining everyday objects with poetry. Using concise interventions or minor shifts, he stages found everyday objects in a new and unfamiliar setting. By tracing their origin and artistic use his constant interest in cultural-historical phenomena becomes clear. Kaspar Ludwig’s work is very promising. The Art Prize aims to make a substantial contribution to promoting his artistic development.
of this year’s jury for the Helvetia Art Prize are Ines Goldbach (Director of Kunsthaus Baselland), Olivier Kaeser (independent curator), Joanna Kamm (Director of LISTE – Art Fair Basel), Andreas Karcher (Head of the Helvetia Art Department), Nathalie Loch (Curator of the Helvetia art collection) and Karine Tissot (Director of Centre d'art contemporain Yverdon-les-Bains).