Winners of $450,000 Moscow Art Prize announced

The lucrative award is divided between 16 recipients and funded by the Moscow city government

Igor Makarevich and Elena Yelagina, the husband and wife duo, won the prize in the visual art category Image: courtesy of Moscow Art Prize

Igor Makarevich and Elena Yelagina, the husband and wife duo, won the prize in the visual art category Image: courtesy of Moscow Art Prize

The second Moscow Art Prize, which carries a total purse of 33m rubles (almost $450,000), was awarded this week at Zaryadye Park adjacent to Red Square.

The annual prize is awarded by the Foundation for the Development of Contemporary Art, which is run by the Kremlin-connected cultural activist Ivan Demidov, and is funded by the Moscow city government.

The award is divided between three winners each in five categories (literature, film, music, theatre, visual art and architecture) and a grand prize winner. According to the prize’s website, it celebrates works created “in Moscow, about Moscow, for Moscow in any genre and movement of contemporary art.”

The veteran Moscow Conceptualists, husband and wife duo Igor Makarevich and Elena Elagina whose works are inspired by Vladimir Tatlin and Kazimir Malevich, took first place in the art category for their retrospective Countdown, which ran at the Moscow Museum of Modern Art. Vasili Tsereteli, the museum’s director, is on the foundation’s board as well as the prize’s expert council, which includes leading figures of Moscow’s contemporary art scene.

The young artists Alexander Kutovoy and Timofey Parschikov, both born in 1983, were awarded second and third prize; Kutovoy for an exhibition called Bulky Biceps Trying to Fly, and Parschikov for a series of works called Sad.Ok.Super, a Covid quarantine visual diary that was shown at Moscow’s Multimedia Art Museum.

The architect Alexey Ginzburg was the recipient of the grand prize for saving and revitalising the landmark early Soviet Constructivist Narkomfin building designed by his grandfather, Moisei Ginzburg. The junior Ginzburg was recently the target of Moscow preservationists for allegedly endangering a historic Moscow neighbourhood near Zaryadye with a development project.

Demidov, who also runs Zaryadye Park in addition to the contemporary art foundation, became a household name in the 1990s as one of Russia’s first music television VJs. He morphed under President Putin into the founder of a Russian Orthodox TV channel, had a hand in Kremlin youth and religion policy, and served a stint as deputy culture minister overseeing cinema.

Demidov launched the foundation in 2015 and was appointed director of Zaryadye Park in 2019. He has worked to reshape the park by building an underground museum of contemporary art displaying large exhibitions that are presented as a counterpoint to international art trends.

At the awards ceremony, Demidov read a statement from Moscow Mayor Sergei Sobyanin saying that the prizewinners’ works “add fresh colours to the cultural palette of Moscow and wins the affections of fans of contemporary art”.

Zaryadye was designed by Diller Scofidio + Renfro, the creators of Manhattan’s High Line park.