Sobey Art Award 2007 winner Michel de Broin’s Black Whole Conference (2006, courtesy Musée d’art contemporain du Val-de-Marne)
Sobey Art Award 2008 winner Tim Lee’s My My, Hey Hey (Out of the Blue) – Hey Hey, My My (Into the Black), Neil Young, 1979 (2007, courtesy the artist and Johnen Galerie, Berlin)
Sobey Art Award 2009 winner David Altmejd’s The Settler (2005, courtesy the artist and Andrea Rosen Gallery, New York) © David Altmejd
Sobey Art Award 2010 winner Daniel Barrow’s House on Fire and Learning to Breathe Under Water (both 2010, courtesy Jessica Bradley Gallery) / photo Richard-Max Tremblay
Sobey Art Award 2011 winners Daniel Young and Christian Giroux’s Mr. Smith at that year’s prize exhibition (courtesy the artists and Diaz Contemporary) / photo Steve Farmer
Sobey Art Award 2012 winner Raphaëlle de Groot’s 70 objets emportés avec moi (2009–10), Porter (2011), Le manteau (2012), and Le manteau (2012) (clockwise from left) / photo Toni Hafkenscheid
Sobey Art Award 2002 winner Brian Jungen’s Prototype for New Understanding #6 (1999, courtesy Art Gallery of Ontario) and Prototype for New Understanding #4 (1998, courtesy Catriona Jeffries) at the 2002 Sobey Art Award exhibition
Sobey Art Award 2004 winner Jean-Pierre Gauthier’s STARS – Cross-Country Skiing (2004, courtesy the artist and Jack Shainman Gallery, New York) and La Course (The Race) (2004, courtesy Art Gallery of Nova Scotia)
Annie Pootoogook, Playing Super Nintendo, 2003–4. Courtesy Feheley Fine Arts.
Finalists at the 2010 Sobey Art Award ceremony (left to right): Emily Vey Duke, Daniel Barrow, Brendan Fernandes, Cooper Battersby, Patrick Bernatchez and Brendan Lee Satish Tang / photo Philippe Casgrain / Déclik Communications
Some of the Sobey Art Award 2009 finalists at the award ceremony (left to right): Marcel Dzama, David Altmejd and Graeme Patterson / photo Steve Farmer Courtesy Art Gallery of Nova Scotia
Finalists and supporters at the 2011 Sobey Art Award exhibition and ceremony (left to right): ceremony emcee Adam Gopnik; Charles Stankievech, Sarah Anne Johnson, Manon de Pauw, Zeke Moores, Daniel Young, Christian Giroux and collector and benefactor Rob Sobey / photo Steve Farmer
From its humble beginnings in the director’s office at the Art Gallery of Nova Scotia in 2001 to a spectacular exhibition and award gala at the Museum of Contemporary Canadian Art in Toronto in 2012, the Sobey Art Award
has come a long way in a little more than a decade.
Widely recognized as the pre-eminent art prize for Canadian artists under the age of 40—and most lucrative, with $50,000 now going to each year’s winner—the Sobey has almost single-handedly redefined the profile and prestige of contemporary Canadian art.
A glance at its backlist of nominated artists (annual longlists of 25 Canadian artists are pared down by a curatorial jury to shortlists of five finalists, one for each region) reads like a primer on the best in the country’s young creators, from inaugural 2002 Sobey winner Brian Jungen to the 2012 title-holder Raphaëlle de Groot and all others in between.
Here, a selection of images by all nine Sobey Art Award winners (the prize was initially awarded biannually), as well as some ceremonial pictures from the Sobey Art Award exhibitions, recaps the prize’s 10-year rise to the top of the Canadian art scene. It’s just the tip of the iceberg—there’s also an in-depth feature on how the prize came to be reported by Murray Whyte in the Spring 2013 issue of Canadian Art. Click on the Photos icon above to view take a trip through art time, and watch newsstands for our new issue as of March 15.