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Portrait of Francis Alÿs, 2016. Photo: Francis Alÿs. Courtesy of the artist and David Zwirner.

Francis Alÿs Wins $40,000 Rolf Schock Prize in Visual Arts

The Swedish Royal Academy of Fine Arts has named Belgian artist Francis Alÿs the winner of the Rolf Schock Prize in Visual Arts. The nearly $40,000 award is one of four prizes that were established and endowed by a bequest from Swedish artist and philosopher Rolf Schock (1933–1986). Administered by the Schock Foundation, the Rolf Schock Prizes were first bestowed in 1993 and have been awarded intermittently ever since. They also honor contributions to the fields of music, mathematics, and logic and philosophy.

Born in 1959 in Antwerp, Belgium, Alÿs lives in Mexico City. He studied architecture at the Institut Saint-Luc in Tournai and technology at the Istituto di Architettura in Venice before settling in Mexico in 1986. Through his practice, which encompasses painting, sculpture, drawing, photography, film, and performance, he uses allegory to address political and social realities, national boundaries, power and vulnerability, and conflict and community.

The prize citation said that Alÿs was selected for a “body of work that is as profound as it is extensive.” It stated: “With seriousness and acuity, [Alÿs] addresses real, tragic situations and circumstances which in his poetic renditions become universal and find their way into our hearts. His extensive projects, such as moving mountains and building bridges between continents, always denote the individual human step or measure. In this way [Alÿs] makes a space for us as participants rather than viewers when we are confronted by his works.”

Chosen by the Royal Swedish Academy of Sciences, the laureate for mathematics is Nikolai G. Makarov of the California Institute of Technology “for his significant contributions to complex analysis and its applications to mathematical physics,” and the laureates for philosophy and logic are emeritus professors of Stockholm University Dag Prawitz and Per Martin-Löf for the “proof-theoretical normalization in natural deduction” and “the creation of constructive type theory.”

The Royal Swedish Academy of Music tapped Hungarian pianist György Kurtág as the recipient of the prize for music. The prize statement said: “Beyond his outstanding life’s work as a composer, he has made a name for himself as an interpreter, not least of his own piano works, and as an engaged and important teacher for generations of musicians.”

This year’s prize ceremony will be held on October 19 in the auditorium of the Royal Academy of Fine Arts in Stockholm.

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