Part 3: Who Are the Nominees for the Contemporary Artist Award? | At the Smithsonian | Smithsonian

Part 3: Who Are the Nominees for the Contemporary Artist Award?

The final part in our series introduces you to the work of five more artists, from giant roses to combat video games to surrealist assemblages

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Artist Will Ryman is one of 15 nominated for this year’s Contemporary Artist Award for works including his 2011 Roses along Park Avenue. Photo from Flickr user ChristiNYCa

Earlier this month, the American Art Museum announced the 15 artists who have been nominated for the museum’s prestigious Contemporary Artist Award. Big stars in the art world, the artists aren’t household names–yet. As part of our three-part series to help introduce readers to the nominees, we present the final five artists nominated for the 2012 prize. Be sure to check out where these artists are currently showing work across the globe.

Will Ryman: Initially a playwright, Will Ryman’s sculptures often draw from his time in the theater. For his 2007 piece, The Bed, for example, Ryman made a giant papier mâché man stretched across a bed that served as a sort of stage. His large-scale figural works transform gallery spaces with tactile temptations: steel, wood, resin, nails, glass and even denim. Moving beyond the gallery, Ryman’s oversized steel and fiberglass roses filled the grassy median of Park Avenue in New York City in 2011. Check out his vibrant buds in front of the Frist Center for Visual Arts in Nashville, Tennessee until Dec. 31, 2012.

Ryan Trecartin: This Los Angeles-based artist also takes a theatrical approach. His mixed media work exists at the intersection between art and film, whether it be sprawling installations or video pieces. MoMAPS1 described his 2011 seven-part video, Any Ever, as “darkly jubilant and categorically frenetic formal experimentations.” Riotous meditations on identity and modern life, his work will be included in the Metropolitan Museum of Art’s upcoming show, “Regarding Warhol: Sixty Artists, Fifty Years,” when the museum looks at the many artists Andy Warhol continues to inspire. Sept. 18 through Dec. 31, 2012.

Mark Tribe: Interested in media, politics and modern interaction, Tribe founded Rhizome, a well-known organization that promotes contemporary art engaged with technology. His work has been shown across the world, including at the Centre Pompidou. His newest project, Rare Earth, contrasts the landscapes of combat video games with film taken from an actual militia training ground in New York. Tribe describes the project as both a look at the evolving field of landscape art as well as an investigation of the virtualization of war and violence. View his digital work on his website.

Mary Simpson: Dealing in poetic visuals, Simpson received her MFA in visual arts from Columbia University in 2009. Simpson’s artistic vocabulary draws on the work of many artists, including those in the Constructivist movement who were interested in creating a new utopian art form. A productive collaboration with Fionn Meade has created numerous notable projects, including a show at the Seattle Art Museum. View excerpts from the duo’s brooding films.

Sara VanDerBeek: Daughter of an experimental filmmaker entrenched in the 1960s art world, VanDerBeek is a photographer and mixed media installation artist. Her 2010 solo show at the Whitney included a collection of photographs, architectural sculptures and assemblages gathered and inspired by her travels to cities including Detroit, New Orleans and New York. Embued with a material melancholy, her works channel the pathos of place with a surrealist touch. Watch her discuss her residency and 2011 installation at UCLA’s Hammer Museum.

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About Leah Binkovitz
Leah Binkovitz

Leah Binkovitz is a Stone & Holt Weeks Fellow at Washington Post and NPR. Previously, she was a contributing writer and editorial intern for the At the Smithsonian section of Smithsonian magazine.

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