The Belgian artist Francis Alÿs will receive the Art Icon Award 2020 on Tuesday, the British Whitechapel Gallery, which has been presenting the award in collaboration with the Swarovski company since 2014, announced on its website.
The award honours an artist who has made a profound contribution to a particular medium and influenced his or her own and subsequent generations of artists.
Francis Alÿs, born Francis De Smedt in 1959 in Antwerp, studied architecture and engineering before heading for Mexico City in 1986, where he helped rebuild the infrastructure destroyed in the 1985 earthquake. He then fell in love with the megalopolis and decided not to leave it again.
His long strolls through the streets of the city have nourished a poetic and colourful work shown in performances, happenings, videos and photographs, paintings and sculptures. Inspired by the sharing of cultures, urban engagement and man’s impact on the environment, the artist delivers his interpretation of life, which he observes where his steps lead him. Like a tightrope walker, Francis Alÿs balances between surrealism and societal commitment.
Since his debut in the 90s, the multifaceted performer has made a name for himself in the art world. He has exhibited at the Tate Modern in London and the MoMa in New York, and his work can be found in numerous public and private collections.
For the past seven years, the Art Icon Award has been presented to artists such as Richard Long and Rachel Whiteread.
The Brussels Times