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.