Swarovski proudly continues its long-term partnership with the Whitechapel Gallery to announce Francis Alÿs as the seventh artist to receive the prestigious annual Art Icon award. The award was presented to Alÿs on January 21 at the Whitechapel Gallery during a gala dinner and auction which raised a record amount for the gallery’s education programs. Iwona Blazwick commented, “This award celebrates an artist whose work elevates the simple activities of walking, playing and observing everyday life, in locations ranging from Mexico City to Mosul, into an art form that is at once playful and profound. The lyrical vision of Alÿs’ actions, films and paintings transcends social and national boundaries to reveal a common humanity.”
“Francis Alÿs combines a global vision with an eye for the local and sees compelling human stories at the smallest level. His richly suggestive multimedia works capture ephemeral moments that encourage the viewer to question the nature of art and its relationship to the world.” Nadja swarovski
Antwerp-born Alÿs began his career training as an architect and moved to Mexico City in 1986. His decision to become an artist came when he was confronted with issues of urbanisation and social unrest. Alÿs directs his distinct poetic and imaginative sensibility toward anthropological and geopolitical concerns centered around observations of, and engagements with, everyday life.
The Whitechapel Gallery’s annual Art Icon event glowed with the Art Icon Committee who included: Erin Bell, Luigi Maramotti, Sarah Miller, Farshid Moussavi, Francis Outred, Irene Panagopoulos, Jasmin Pelham, Catherine Petitgas, Alice Rawsthorn, Bina von Stauffenberg, Darius Sanai, Nadja Swarovski, Cheyenne Westphal, and David Zwirner. As part of the gala dinner, an auction led by Phillips Auction House took place where amazing works were donated by leading artists including Alvaro Barrington, Gareth Cadwallader, Cathy de Monchaux, Alexis Teplin and Richard Wentworth. All funds raised supported the Whitechapel Gallery’s program, specifically its work with thousands of children and young people each year.
Separate to the Art Icon event, the Swarovski Foundation has supported the Whitechapel Gallery since 2015, donating funds towards the Youth Programs reaching over 4000 young people through short and long term creative engagement opportunities. These programs bring young adults closer to artistic creativity, it’s formed around collaborative artist-led projects, events and a dedicated peer-led youth forum. Swarovski is proud to celebrate its continuing support of creative partnerships, demonstrating its longstanding commitment to art and culture.