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Artists and Fashion Icons will Gather in New York to Honor the Winner of the Hugo Boss Prize
Apichatpong Weerasethakul, Primitive, 2009. Eight-channel video installation. Courtesy Kick the Machine Films. Photo: Chaisiri Jiwarangsan.

By: Andrew Belonsky

NEW YORK, NY.- Organized in conjunction with the Solomon R. Guggenheim Museum, the Prize honors contemporary artists picked by an independent jury, and represents the culmination of the company's deep commitment to artistic endeavors.

"We want to demonstrate that we're supporting art, particularly contemporary art, and show our engagement with art. We take it quite seriously," explained Dr. Hjördis Kettenbach, head of art sponsorship at Hugo Boss. "We want to be known as a supporter of the arts. And the Prize is a great way to show that."

With its founding in 1995, the biennial Hugo Boss Prize rapidly became one of the international art world's most illustrious awards, and past winners include French artist Pierre Huyghe, Palestine's Emily Jacir, American Matthew Barney and Scottish artist Douglas Gordon.

As for this year, Chinese video artist Cao Fei, Lebanon's Walid Raad, who works in mixed media, and Bratislava-based performance and installation artist Roman Ondák are among the six nominees vying for the prize's eighth presentation, to be determined by a group of independent jurists, including Udo Kittelman, director of Berlin's Nationalgalerie, DIA Art Foundation director Yasmil Raymond and is chaired by the Guggenheim's chief curator, Nancy Spector.

In addition to the Prize, Hugo Boss each year works with about 20 museums to coordinate and sponsor exhibits for artists both emerging and established. For example, the company helped back Ed Ruscha and Felix Gonzalez-Torres' respective expositions at the Venice Biennale, and has backed shows for artists like Josephine Meckseper and Antony Gormley.

"We're always looking for exciting new projects. We really like fresh ideas, inspiring ideas" said Kettenbach. Asked where the company's looking these days, Kettenbach kept a tight lip, although did cite the U.S. and Asian markets as being particularly robust and intriguing.

But the company's relationship with the art world's more than just corporate sponsorship; it's a two-way collaboration. Artists help the company set its own aesthetic course.

"Since we're based in Germany, and an international brand, we need to know what's going on in the world, and artists teach us," she said of the cultural collaborations. "You can learn a lot about society through art." And it's for precisely that reason that Hugo Boss gives employees free memberships to nearly two dozen international museums: so they can broaden their creative and cultural perspective.

The Prize awarded this week simply represents the culmination of Hugo Boss' overarching ideology: art and fashion go hand in hand, and the company wants to insure they never let go.

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