Minister Ingrid van Engelshoven of Education, Culture and Science presented the Johannes Vermeer Prize 2020, the Dutch state prize for the arts, to photographer Rineke Dijkstra on Thursday, February 18. Rineke Dijkstra receives the prize because of her iconic contribution to photography. She is - according to the jury report - "the queen of Dutch portraiture".
The jury, chaired by Andrée van Es, unanimously nominated Rineke Dijkstra. The jury calls Dijkstra's portrait photographs and film installations unique in the world: "This work is for the ages. The ability to make this kind of images is given to few artists."
Rineke Dijkstra's career took off in spectacular fashion with her first major series of "Beach Portraits" (1992-1998). On this the jury says: "The vulnerability of these young adults, aware of their appearance or not, and the intimacy that Dijkstra manages to achieve, characterize her entire subsequent oeuvre. The series runs synchronously with her coming of age as an artist. From searching portrait photographer to world star making school."
Against the backdrop of the corona crisis, this year's jury paid particular attention to the importance of the award. "The extreme circumstances of this year because of covid-19 made for the jury the weight of this State Prize even more tangible: as a symbol of respect and appreciation for the arts, but also as an expression of the exceptional importance of artists for our society," the jury said.
The award ceremony was to have taken place last fall in the Ridderzaal in The Hague. Due to ongoing corona restrictions, the ceremony was rescheduled. Today the trophy was handed over to Dijkstra in small company during a festive online edition, from the Felix Meritis in Amsterdam. Invited guests could follow the ceremony digitally.
The Johannes Vermeer Award is the Dutch state prize for the arts and consists - in addition to the trophy - of 100,000 euros. The winner may spend this on a special project in his or her field of work. The Dutch government established the prize in 2009 to honor and stimulate exceptional artistic talent. It may be awarded to artists working in the Netherlands in all artistic disciplines.
Previous winners include opera director Pierre Audi, filmmaker and writer Alex van Warmerdam, photographer Erwin Olaf, visual artist Marlene Dumas, architect Rem Koolhaas, graphic designer Irma Boom, composer and director Michel van der Aa, visual artist and film director Steve McQueen, fashion designer Iris van Herpen, violinist Janine Jansen and theater maker Ivo van Hove.