There are many prestigious art awards that are recognized internationally, such as the Hugo Boss Prize established by the Guggenheim Museum, Tate’s Turner Prize, and the Golden and Silver Lion by the Venice Biennale.
South Korea has the Korea Artist Prize organized by the National Museum of Modern and Contemporary Art (MMCA) and supported by the SBS Foundation. It is one of Korea’s most prestigious art awards honoring outstanding artistic talents.
However, large-scale award programs held by big foundations and institutions are not the only awards and prizes that vitally contribute to the art world. Lesser known but equally meaningful awards are also given by a number of non-profit institutions. These programs play an essential role in highlighting underrepresented young artists with great potential who may lead the art world in the future.
We present you with some of Korea’s award programs that aim to discover, foster, and support the creative activities of young and emerging artists.
The DOOSAN Artist Award was established in 2010 to recognize promising and outstanding Korean artists under the age of forty who work in the fields of contemporary performing and visual arts. The DOOSAN Art Center seeks recommendations for candidates from a panel of outside experts in each area. Each winner receives 30 million KRW (approximately $25,000) and separate funding support to open an exhibition or put on a performance – about 60 million KRW for an art exhibition and roughly 150 million KRW for a performance.
The DOOSAN Art Center was opened in 2007 to commemorate the 111th anniversary of the Doosan Group, a South Korean conglomerate founded in 1896. The art center also runs four other supporting programs for young contemporary artists who work in the performing and fine arts.
The SONGEUN Art Award grants funding support of 20 million KRW (approximately $17,000), as well as a chance to put on a solo exhibition within two years at SONGEUN’s exhibition space, with an opportunity to participate in a year-long program at the Seoul Museum of Art (SeMA) NANJI Residency. Two works by the winner go to the collections of SONGEUN and the SeMA. Shortlisted artists also earn a chance to participate in the Delfina Foundation’s 12-week residency program in London. Artist under forty-five years old can apply for the award. The 22nd submission was closed on February 11, 2022, and the exhibition is scheduled for December. The final winner will be announced in January 2023.
SONGEUN is a non-profit institution run by the SONGEUN Art and Cultural Foundation. The foundation was established in 1989 by the late SungYeon Yoo, founder of the energy and mining-related company ST International.
The Kumho Young Artist program was established in 2004 with the purpose of discovering young professional artists under thirty-five years old and supporting their works by offering an opportunity to put on exhibitions at the museum. Submissions go through three evaluation processes.
The Kumho Museum of Art was first founded as an art gallery in 1989 by the Kumho Asiana Group and later turned into a museum in 1996. The museum also runs an artist-in-residence program at the Kumho Art Studio in Icheon.
OCI Young Creatives supports young Korean artists who challenge existing paradigms in the field of art and break new ground in the development of visual arts. Selected artists win an opportunity to hold a solo exhibition at the museum, with the funding support of 10 million KRW, along with a comprehensive press package and curatorial support.
The OCI Museum was founded in 2010 by OCI Company Ltd., a South Korean chemical company. The museum collection has about 20,000 modern and contemporary artworks, including North Korean oil paintings. The museum puts on various exhibitions and supports young artists through its OCI Young Creatives and two residency programs.