Art Prize History

The Aesthetica Art Prize was launched in 2007, five years after the launch of Aesthetica Magazine, as a way to support the next generation of talent across new visual media. It welcomed both established and emerging practitioners to submit pieces on any theme, celebrating innovative works from a range of media. These works were published in the Creative Works Annual.

In 2013, the prize evolved into an exhibition as well as a publication, presenting longlisted and shortlisted works from March to August in York, UK. Both Main and Emerging prize winners have since been awarded at the Private View, given £5000 and £1000 respectively, amongst other accolades. The exhibition moved to York Art Gallery in 2017, and has since exhibited works from today’s leading practitioners including Magnum photographers, Turner Prize-nominees, RSA Film directors, World Press Photo winners and Prix Pictet nominees.

The prize attracts thousands of entries each year from across the globe, from countries including Australia, Belgium, China, France, Germany, Italy, Japan, Mexico, Norway, Singapore, the UK and the USA. The judging panel has included representatives from BALTIC, Frieze, V&A, and FACT Liverpool.

What We’re Looking For

The Art Prize is open to works in any genre, and on any theme, however, we are particularly interested in works that reflect upon our ever changing world.

Previous exhibitions have posed larger questions about what it means to exist in a digitised, post-industrial landscape, as well as the effects of over-consumption, media stimulation, globalisation, and the climate crisis. We are looking for pieces that challenge us – that redefine the parameters of contemporary art and compel audiences to connect with one another. Winning pieces have reflected upon both social and political structures, questioning the value that we place on the planet and each other. They have pushed the boundaries of form and technique, providing a new set of possibilities and ideas.

To find out more about the types of work that have been shortlisted and longlisted, view our Artists’ Profiles here.


Awards to Enter

Main Prize
Open to all practitioners working at any level, including students and graduates.

  • £5,000 prize money for the winner
  • Group exhibition with the Finalists hosted by Aesthetica
  • Publication in the Future Now: 100 Contemporary Artists
  • Editorial coverage in Aesthetica Magazine
  • £250 art supplies vouchers courtesy of Cass Art
  • Selection of art books courtesy of Prestel

Emerging Prize
Open to current students and artists who have graduated within the last two years.

  • £1,000 prize money for the winner
  • Group exhibition with the Finalists hosted by Aesthetica
  • Publication in the Future Now: 100 Contemporary Artists
  • Editorial coverage in Aesthetica Magazine
  • £250 art supplies vouchers courtesy of Cass Art
  • Selection of art books courtesy of Prestel

Future Now Symposium

In 2016, Aesthetica launched the first edition of the annual Future Now Symposium – a two-day event coinciding with the opening of the Art Prize Exhibition. The Symposium was launched to bring together key institutions, galleries and publications for discussion surrounding the most pressing issues from today’s creative industries, such as The Politics of Representation; How are Exhibitions Programmed ?; and The Business of Art: How the Art Market Influences All.

Through imaginative debates, career advice and cultural engagement, Future Now has developed into a key event in the arts calendar. It provides a platform for idea generation through panel discussions, portfolio reviews and key networking events with representatives from The Art Newspaper, Frieze, Creative Review, Getty Images, Tate, V&A, Foam Amsterdam, London Art Fair, RIBA, Royal Academy and more.

Find out more about the Future Now Symposium here.