Max Mara Art Prize 3rd Edition: 2009 - 2011

Andrea Büttner, Father


The winner of the third edition (2009-2011) of the Prize was announced at Whitechapel Gallery on 23 March 2010. The panel of judges, chaired by Iwona Blazwick, included artist Fiona Banner, gallerist Alison Jacques, art collector Valeria Napoleone and art critic Polly Staple agreed a shortlist comprising Becky Beasley, Andrea Büttner and Elizabeth Price, and after considering their proposals announced Andrea Büttner as the recipient of the prize. The artist realised her project during a six-months residency in Italy in 2010, partly at the American Academy in Rome, partly at the Pistoletto Foundation in Biella, and also as the guest of a number of religious communities.


Born in Stuttgart in 1972. Lives and works in London and Frankfurt. After studying history and philosophy at Humboldt University in Berlin, she was awarded a PhD at Royal College of Art, London in 2009. She is the recipient of a number of awards and accolades including: Maria-Sibylla-Merian Prize, Kunststiftung Baden Württemberg Grant (2009), Cusanuswerk Scholarship (2005-2008) and Working Grant, Tyler Graphics (2006). She was shortlisted for the Turner Prize 2017. In 2017, she had solo shows at the Hammer Museum and at the KW Institute for Contemporary Art. She works in a variety of media (inclusive of woodcuts and pressed flowers) and is especially interested in themes in which art and religion intertwine and overlap. Büttner’s work also investigates the potential dilemmas the artist faces within the space of the gallery and its powerful charge of expectations.


The Poverty of Riches is a project that explores the intersection of religion, art and the condition of the artist in the contemporary world. Andrea Büttner engages with Catholicism by way of a complex, multi-layered reflection on art. The artworks produced in the course of the project were inspired by the Italian religious communities in which she lived for a while, as well as by Giotto’s frescoes, and a number of Arte Povera works at Collezione Maramotti. Her show transforms the exhibition space into a space of contemplation in which we look at works that represent elements of religious iconography, rendered in the traditional technique of woodcuts. Flanking such traditional imagery, we also find pieces of everyday cloth which the artist has retrieved from the uniforms of park guards, policemen and refuse collectors, and then stretched as though they were canvases, thus creating colourful “paintings.” These works are part of Büttner’s exploration of the symbolic uses of fabrics in Italian religious art. The Poverty of Riches opened at Whitechapel Gallery: 1 – 10 April 2011 before travelling to Collezione Maramotti: 12 November 2011 – 29 April 2012. Part of the project was loaned to Whitechapel Gallery in 2015 for the show Adventures of the Black Square: Abstract Art and Society 1915 – 2015.

Image Credit: Andrea Büttner: The Poverty of Riches, 1 April – 10 April 2011, Whitechapel Gallery