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Doris Salcedo wins world’s largest contemporary art prize of $1m

Nomura Art Award enables Colombian artist to create Acts of Mourning works in remote regions

Doris Salcedo Courtesy of Solomon R. Guggenheim Foundation. Photo: David Heald

The Colombian artist Doris Salcedo has won the inaugural $1m Nomura Art Award, the largest cash prize for contemporary art in the world. In comparison, this year’s UK Turner Prize winner, due to be announced 3 December, will receive £25,000; the French artist Éric Baudelaire won €35,000 earlier this month after bagging the Prix Marcel Duchamp, France’s biggest art prize.

The Nomura award, announced today in Shanghai, will enable Salcedo to make further works in her Acts of Mourning series, made up of sculptural installations created since 1999 that commemorate the victims of Colombia’s civil war. “The artist intends to continue the series outside of Bogotá, in the remote regions of Colombia that have suffered disproportionately from the civil war,” says a statement.

In June, Salcedo unveiled her most recent commemorative piece entitled Quebrantos (Shattered) in the Plaza de Bolívar in Bogotá. In 2015, she told The Art Newspaper: “I devoted myself to making art out of political violence, knowing that it is impossible. I think violent death is obscene, so it is outside representation; it escapes symbolisation altogether. I know what I do is in vain.”

The Nomura Art Award is backed by the eponymous Asian financial services group. The award judges include Nicholas Serota, the chair of Arts Council England, and Max Hollein, the director of the Metropolitan Museum of Art, New York. In May, the Nomura Emerging Artist Awards were given to Cheng Ran, a Chinese artist who lives and works in Hangzhou, and the US artist Cameron Rowland; each received S$100,000.