Arnaud Maggs: Winner of the $50,000 Scotiabank Photography Award
Design Exchange, Toronto May 9 2012
POSTED: MAY 10, 2012
Veteran artist Arnaud Maggs nudged out fellow photographers Fred Herzog and Alain Paiement as the winner of the second annual Scotiabank Photography Award, announced last night in Toronto. The $50,000 prize—which was conceived and developed by photographer Edward Burtynsky and Scotiabank art collection director Jane Nokes—also includes a major publication deal with German art-book publisher Steidl and a feature solo exhibition at next year’s Contact Photography Festival.
SPA jurors William Ewing, director of curatorial projects at Thames & Hudson, Karen Love, manager of grants and publications at the Vancouver Art Gallery, and Ann Thomas, curator of photography at the National Gallery of Canada, noted Maggs’ “unswerving and affectionate eye” and his ability to elevate “both the idea of human identity represented through the photographic portrait and the idea of cultural evidence garnered through the traces that everyday things leave behind.” As Nokes put it, “Arnaud Maggs is the master of the archival image… His extraordinary use of the ordinary is a wonder.”
Since trading a career in graphic design for photography in the 1970s, Maggs has been critically renowned for his serial approach to image making and social history. In works that range from portraiture to archival documentation, and which are often presented in large-scale photo-grid installations, he has consistently struck a masterful balance between the conceptual mechanics of photography and a deep-set humanist sensitivity for narrative and history.
Maggs’ SPA win caps a busy stretch for the 86-year-old artist, who clearly has no intention of slowing down. His latest photo series After Nadar, which debuted earlier this spring at Susan Hobbs Gallery in Toronto, offered a career overview of sorts in self-portraits of Maggs costumed as the 19th-century French pantomime Pierrot. (Parisian photographer Nadar once made a series of images of Pierrot, providing part of Maggs’ inspiration.) And last week in Ottawa, Maggs opened “Identification,” a four-decade survey exhibition which continues through to September at the National Gallery of Canada.
This article was corrected on May 10, 2012. The original article stated that Arnaud Maggs is 85 years of age. He is actually 86 years of age.