With its Alexej von Jawlensky Prize, the city of Wiesbaden honors the life’s work of the Great Russian painter, who lived in Wiesbaden from 1921 until the end of his life in 1941 and is buried in the city’s Russian cemetery. Bestowed every 5 years, the prize is associated with a cash award, an exhibition in Museum Wiesbaden and the purchase of work for the museum’s collection.
The prize is funded by the city of Wiesbaden, the Spielbank Wiesbaden and the Nassauische Sparkasse. The support of these three institutions signals their recognition of and commitment to the creative energy Alexej von Jawlensky contributed to the cultural life of our city and to an active dialogue with the most important currents of contemporary art.
First to be awarded the prize was American painter Agnes Martin in 1991, followed in 1996 by American painter Robert Mangold, selected by an international jury as the second recipient. The awards ceremony and exhibition, however, were not held until 1998, due to renovations. In 2003, the prize went to the American painter Brice Marden, who accepted the award in 2004 at the opening of the exhibition “Jawlensky — My Dearest Galka!” In 2007, the prize was awarded a fourth time to the artist Rebecca Horn, whose work has been shown at multiple documenta exhibitions. The award ceremony in March 2007 marked the opening of not only the Horn exhibition associated with the prize but of her mirror installation “Jupiter in the Octagon.”
In 2010, the American artist Ellsworth Kelly was awarded the Jawlensky Prize for his life’s work. The award for exceptional contribution to the fine arts was presented at the opening of the artist’s exhibition associated with the prize in March 2012.In 2014 the american sculptor Richard Serra received the price for his outstanding performance. It was honored with the exhibtion "Richard Serra - Props, Films, Early Works" in the Museum Wiesbaden in 2016.
The artist Otto Ritschl (1885—1976) was a resident of Wiesbaden from 1918 to 1976. After his early figural and, later, more Surrealist works, Ritschl began, in the 1950s, to move progressively toward geometric and, finally, more expressive abstraction. The increasingly meditative work of his late period, beginning in the early 1960s, focused exclusively on immaterial space, shaped entirely by color. The Museum Association Otto Ritschl began bestowing the prize in 2001 in Ritschl’s honor to artists whose work focuses on color and the investigation of color and spatiality. The prize is associated with an exhibition at Museum Wiesbaden, including a catalogue, and a cash award.
The association awarded the prize for the first time in 2001 to artist Gotthard Graubner for his abstract color paintings, like Kissenbilder [Cushion Pictures] (canvas stretched on wooden frame over cotton). In 2003, the prize was awarded to Ulrich Erben for his work with color constellations — color combinations and chromatic chords that define space, capture light and slip into motion. With the award cycle disrupted by the structural renovation of Museum Wiesbaden, the next Ritschl Prize was not bestowed again until 2009, going to Kazuo Katase, whose commonalities with Ritschl extend far beyond the investigation of color and space. Both artists were interested in Far Eastern philosophy, the comparison of Eastern and Western thought, as well as with the philosophy of Kant, Nietzsche and Heidegger.
Internationally renowned artist Katharina Grosse, who lives in Berlin and teaches in Düsseldorf, is the latest recipient of the prize for her innovative approach to color-space that has long exploded the boundaries of the picture frame. Grosse’s works focus on the use color in connection with surfaces, creating “walk-in” color-spaces and investigating the possibilities and limitations of the art of painting.
Museum Association Otto Ritschl, Wiesbaden