Discovering tomorrow’s artists today takes effort: prepare to go to every graduate show and art fair in the country to find the really good stuff. Or, if you live in the UK, there’s a shortcut: The Catlin Guide. Published by fine art insurer Catlin Group Limited, the annual book features 40 emerging artists as chosen by art dealer, exhibition curator and art publisher Justin Hammond.
Catlin also has its own art prize, which has been awarded to one of the guide’s featured artists each year since 2007. A lot has changed in the art world since the prize was first introduced, according to Hammond, “2007 was a weird time; the contemporary art market was bloated and a decade on from Sensation [art exhibit] the mainstream press remained obsessed with great big shout-y art. The smarter students had long since reacted against all that overblown stuff, but perhaps there was still pressure—or at least an expectation—to compete. Now the pressure on new grads is largely financial—exorbitant tuition fees will do that—but thankfully it hasn’t triggered a proliferation of market-ready art. Experimentation remains rife,” he says.
To find the artists that will eventually end up in the guide, Hammond stops by as many shows as he can, conducts studio visits and picks the brains of critics, collectors and other artists to find out who they rate. “At that stage I’m looking for artists with fresh ideas and the inclination to evolve; I want to hear about what they’re planning next. For the Catlin Art Prize in May, I’ll select a group of approximately eight artists and encourage them to demonstrate that progress,” he says.
The final selection is an impressive one, with a number of exciting new talents showcasing their work. Among the stand-out pieces are Jisun Choi’s “In Case,” an installation of suitcases and photos that “explores human anxiety,” and the unnerving but funny sculptures made by Fanny Wickström of the Glasgow School of Art. Her practice “revolves around gendered behavior and imagery, and how it manifests itself and influences us in everyday life,” she explains in the Catlin Guide.
Hammond’s extensive research also ends up giving him a pretty clear picture of emerging art trends. “What’s interesting about almost all of the painters in the current book is that they’ve either incorporated sculpture, or indicated an intention to experiment with video or animation. Certainly, there was an abundance of video at the last round of degree shows with a surprisingly high quota running beyond thirty minutes. Considering the cyclonic viewing technique often favored at degree shows, that’s pretty brave,” he says.
The Catlin Art Prize will be awarded in May 2015 and The Catlin Guide is available now.
Images courtesy of Catlin Guide