Art Icon 2020
21 January 2020

Whitechapel Gallery is pleased to announce that Francis Alÿs (b. 1959, Belgium) will be the seventh artist to receive the prestigious Art Icon Award in partnership with Swarovski. Art Icon 2020 will be presented at a gala dinner at Whitechapel Gallery on Tuesday 21 January 2020.

Born in Antwerp in 1959, Alÿs originally trained as an architect and moved to Mexico City in 1968, where he continues to live and work. It was the confrontation with issues of urbanisation and social unrest in his new country of adoption that inspired his decision to become a visual artist. Throughout his practice, Alÿs consistently directs his distinct poetic and imaginative sensibility toward anthropological and geopolitical concerns centred around observations of, and engagements with, everyday life. His multifaceted projects including public actions, installations, video, paintings, and drawings have involved travelling the longest possible route between locations in Mexico and the United States; pushing a melting block of ice through city streets; commissioning sign painters to copy his paintings; filming his efforts to enter the centre of a tornado; and equipping hundreds of volunteers to move a colossal sand dune ten centimetres.

Notes to Editors

  • A full list of exhibitors will be available on our website.


About Whitechapel Gallery

For over a century the Whitechapel Gallery has premiered world class artists from modern masters such as Pablo Picasso, Jackson Pollock, Mark Rothko and Frida Kahlo to contemporaries such as Sophie Calle, Lucian Freud, Gilbert & George and Mark Wallinger. With beautiful galleries, exhibitions, artist commissions, collection displays, historic archives, education resources, inspiring art courses, dining room and bookshop, the Gallery is open all year round, so there is always something free to see. It is a touchstone for contemporary art internationally, plays a central role in London’s cultural landscape and is pivotal to the continued growth of the world’s most vibrant contemporary art quarter.

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