Five Years Honoring the Best & Brightest
Peter Trippi, Editor-in-Chief, Fine Art Connoisseur Magazine, New York
Jan 1, 2019
Consider how hard art professionals work to conceive and organize their temporary exhibitions and installations of art and design, and also how much money is spent to mount and tour them. Now ask yourself: how are the best of these projects honored, after the lights have dimmed and the loaned artworks have headed home? Oddly, in a world teeming with award ceremonies for seemingly every possible artistic activity (think “Oscars”), there has been no program that recognizes such exhibitions.
To breach this gap, the annual Global Fine Art Awards (GFAA) initiative was launched in 2014 by its president and CEO, Judy Holm, whose 25-year career has included developing arts and culture programs for financial institutions and private clients across the U.S. and Europe. She has worked tirelessly to create a new tradition that fulfills four specific objectives. These are to recognize the best curated fine art and design exhibitions in museums, galleries, art fairs, biennials, and public installations; to honor innovation and excellence in exhibition design, historical context, educational value, and public appeal; to develop the public’s interest and passion for fine art; and to further its educational role in society.
Holm has achieved this by founding a non-profit eligible to receive donations via the long-established arts service organization Fractured Atlas. The program is gaining awareness through a series of events that highlight its nominees and winners, hosted thus far in Miami, San Francisco, New York, and London. The program’s scope is growing, not only in terms of numbers of projects nominated and categories available, but also in terms of institutional sizes and countries represented.
In New York City this winter (Tuesday evening, March 12, to be specific), the next round of awards will be revealed during an exciting black-tie ceremony and gala. As ever, each winner will be honored with the production of a sophisticated, one-minute-long video — created by the gifted Hogan Fritz — that distills the project’s essence through moving and still images. These remain on permanent view on GFAA’s website and its dedicated YouTube channel.
The sheer quantity of exhibitions mounted worldwide each year is literally countless, so inevitably GFAA’s process for determining nominees and winners will always be somewhat subjective, yet it does actually possess a degree of scientific rigor. A broad set of criteria is utilized to research and assess the prospective nominees, with continuous review of dozens of sources of print and online editorial and critiques. Through them, exhibitions are vetted by members of the Art Research Committee, who also offer personalized assessments based on their own exhibition viewing. In addition to the research-based nominations, GFAA accepts nominations from the public. The Nominating Committee reviews the slate prepared by the Art Research Committee, then presents its findings to the judges. These judges modify and select the final slate of nominees, then vote on the winners. The results are audited by an independent committee.
Geography, institutional size, and diversity of artists’ ethnicity and gender are essential considerations within the process. Judge Dean Phelus — who as senior director of leadership programs at the American Alliance of Museums possesses a rare bird’s-eye view of the field — notes that the nominees “demonstrate the universal power of art to facilitate a sense of individual and collective identity, enlighten through knowledge, and nurture an understanding of our connections to the world and to each other.” Indeed, one of GFAA’s broader goals is to remind the public that art holds the uniquely powerful capacity to bring the world’s people together. In an era when terrorists too often rob the world’s peoples of cultural treasures in such places as Palmyra and Timbuktu, the sharing of superb art through exhibitions has inadvertently assumed added significance.
And I look forward to seeing you in New York on March 12 for GFAA’s fifth annual award ceremony and gala: