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Emma Talbot in her studio in When Screens Break, 2020. Photo: Thierry Bal.
Emma Talbot in her studio in When Screens Break, 2020. Photo: Thierry Bal.

Eighth Max Mara Art Prize for Women Goes to Emma Talbot

Emma Talbot has won the eighth Max Mara Art Prize for Women, a biennial award that supports UK-based female artists who have not previously had a major solo exhibition. Administered by Max Mara, Whitechapel Gallery, and the Collezione Maramotti, the prize comes with a six-month residency in Italy that will culminate with Talbot staging an exhibition at the Whitechapel Gallery in London and the Collezione Maramotti in the Reggio Emilia region of Italy.

“Emma Talbot makes radiant drawings and polychromatic sculptures on an epic scale; and combines word and image to express the lyricism and the pain of subjectivity,” Iwona Blazwick, director of the Whitechapel Gallery, said. “We are all excited to see how the experience of Italy will impact on the visionary aesthetic of this year’s Max Mara Art Prize winner!”

Based in London, Talbot, who primarily works in drawing, painting, installation, and sculpture, will draw inspiration from Gustav Klimt’s painting Three Ages of Woman,1905, which is housed at the Galleria Nazionale d’Arte Moderna in Rome, to create a new body of work that will challenge representations of women and positions of power. Talbot will recast the naked, elderly woman depicted in Klimt’s work as someone with agency. During her residency, Talbot will spend time researching classical mythology, textile craftsmanship, and permaculture in Rome, Reggio Emilia, and Sicily. Since the country is currently struggling to contain its coronavirus outbreak—Italy currently has the highest number of cases in Europe—the dates of the residency have yet to be announced.

Talbot, who described receiving the award as “life-changing,” said: “This prize comes at a crucial point that seems incredibly timely for me, as I have only recently begun to focus fully on my own work, having for many years taken on teaching roles to support my family, as a single parent. The Max Mara Art Prize for Women will help me make the most of this major step.”