Dr A.H. Heineken Prize for Art 2018 awarded to Erik van Lieshout

8 March 2018

The international jury for the Dr A.H. Heineken Prize for Art has unanimously selected Dutch visual artist Erik van Lieshout as this year’s laureate. Van Lieshout will receive a cash prize of EUR 100,000, half of which is meant to finance a publication and/or exhibition.

From left: Untitled, 2016 / Installation view ‘I am in Heaven’ - Photo by Thomas Müller / Installation view ‘The Basement’ - Photo by China Hopson

The award ceremony will take place in Amsterdam on Thursday 27 September 2018. The Dr A.H. Heineken Prize for Art is Netherlands’ most prestigious prize for visual artists. It is financed from a private fund and was established thirty years ago. To mark this milestone, the Van Abbe Museum in Eindhoven will be hosting a major jubilee exhibition from 14 July to 30 September 2018.

About the laureate

Photo Erik van Lieshout by Jussi Puikkonen

Erik van Lieshout (born in Deurne in 1968) lives and works in Rotterdam. He studied at the Academy of Art and Design in 's Hertogenbosch and Ateliers '63 in Haarlem (1990-1992). His work consists of drawings, collages, sculptures and videos, often combined into multimedia installations. He always features in his own videos. 'Erik van Lieshout explodes into our consciousness,' was how one reviewer recently described Van Lieshout’s exhibition I am in Heaven (Anton Kern Gallery, 2015). As a Manifesta 10 artist (2014), he spent two months overhauling the basement of the Hermitage Museum in St Petersburg, along with the seventy or so stray cats that live there. He sketched and filmed the process. While it appears to document the overhaul, Van Lieshout’s film The Basement (2014) is really about Russia under Putin, gay rights, the seizure of the Crimea, censorship and Pussy Riot. This short film was projected in a 50-metre-long tunnel made of plywood and carpet and lined with copies of politically charged sketches and photographs of the cats in the basement. Clips of this work reappear in his longer film WORK (2015). Viewers are overwhelmed by a whirlwind of images, impressions, snippets of text, animations, crudely fashioned props, raw charcoal drawings and film images shot with a handheld camera that show Van Lieshout talking to himself and others about idealism, utopia, harsh reality and the position that an uncompromising artist tries to claim in all of it. His work can be found in Dutch and international private and museum collections, including the MoMa in New York. In 2003, he was selected to be the Dutch entry for the Venice Biennale. 

Jury report

The jury for the Dr A.H. Heineken Prize for Art has praised Erik van Lieshout’s work for its radical, personal and confrontational nature. In his unique, tragicomic style, Van Lieshout puts his finger on what ails society. His work never flags, continues to grow and is pure: he is not out to preach. He enters into dialogue with groups who others often give a wide berth: ghetto-dwellers, junkies, drifters, and right-wing or left-wing extremists. He raises questions about drugs, sex, violence and overregulation. There is no taboo or danger that Erik van Lieshout tries to avoid; on the contrary, he makes a beeline for them and tries to find a dialogue. 

Jury composition

The jury for the Dr A.H. Heineken Prize for Art 2018 is chaired by Kitty Zijlmans, Professor of Art and Architectural History at Leiden University (Academy member). Other members are Ann Demeester, Director of the Frans Hals Museum | De Hallen Haarlem; Aernout Mik, visual artist and Dr A.H. Heineken Prize for Art laureate in 2002; Carla Sieburgh, Professor of Law at Radboud University (Academy member); and Dirk Snauwaert, Artistic Director of WIELS, Brussels.

Dr A.H. Heineken Prize for Art

Alfred Heineken established the prize that bears his name to recognise and encourage exceptionally talented artists. The Foundation awarded the prize for the first time in 1988 and since then every other year to an outstanding artist living and working in the Netherlands. The prize consists of a sculpture, a publication and/or exhibition (budgeted at EUR 50,000) and a cash prize of EUR 50,000. Previous laureates include Peter Struycken, Mark Manders, Barbara Visser, Job Koelewijn, Daan van Golden, Aernout Mik, Guido Geelen, Wendelien van Oldenborgh and Yvonne Dröge Wendel. 

Major anniversary exhibition

The jubilee exhibition 30 Years Heineken Prize for Art will be hosted by the Van Abbe Museum in Eindhoven from 14 July to 30 September 2018. The exhibition will feature the work of the sixteen Dr A.H. Heineken Prize for Art laureates in chronological order. It will also survey the history of the prize.

A bilingual publication will accompany the exhibition and there will be an international symposium on 20 September addressing the subject of artistic patronage. 

Heineken Prizes for Science

The Dr A.H. Heineken Prize for Art is not a stand-alone award. It has now been more than fifty years since the Dr H.P. Heineken Prize for Biochemistry and Biophysics was awarded for the first time. Since then, five more Heineken Prizes have joined this internationally prestigious prize for science: the Dr A.H. Heineken Prize for Art (1988), Medicine (1989), Environmental Sciences (1990) and History (1990), as well as the C.L. de Carvalho-Heineken Prize for Cognitive Science. There are also four Heineken Young Scientists Awards. Alfred H. Heineken (1923-2002) established the Heineken Prizes in 1964 in honour of his father (Dr Henry P. Heineken, 1886-1971). His daughter, Charlene L. de Carvalho-Heineken (born in 1954), is continuing her father’s tradition as the chairman of the Dr H.P. Heineken Foundation, the Dr A.H. Heineken Foundations and the C.L. de Carvalho-Heineken Foundation, which fund the prizes. 

The Heineken Prizes are awarded every other year. The laureates are selected by juries made up of members of the Royal Netherlands Academy of Arts and Sciences, The Young Academy and international experts. 

Each of the Heineken science prizes is USD 200,000. The incentive prizes for young scientists are EUR 10,000 each. The winners of the science prizes will be announced at the end of April 2018.