On 19 December 2019, together with the Deutsche Gesellschaft für Medaillenkunst e.V. and the Numismatische Gesellschaft zu Berlin e. V., the Münzkabinett announced a prize for an artistic medallion on the theme of “The Three Graces”.
Depicting the “Three Graces” Through the Ages
The Charites have generally been depicted as beautiful, mostly naked young women. In the Hellenistic period, an unknown sculptor depicted them as a group of three: two facing forward, and the third standing before them in the centre, her back faced to the beholder. Since the Renaissance, this composition has seen numerous reiterations and modifications.
This established motif offers contemporary artists material to be adapted and reinterpreted against the backdrop of the present-day world. The makers of contemporary artistic medallions can employ realistic, abstract, political, ironic or humorous depictions in their work, but they can also address themes related to the environment, sociology or politics.
The competition was aimed at art students from all artistic disciplines as well as all emerging artists. First place received a prize of €1,000, second place €600, and third place €400. The jury was made up of Marianne Dietz (sculptor, Berlin), Carsten Theumer (sculptor, Halle), Prof Klaus Kowalski (sculptor, Wunstorf, and organizer of the prize), Dr Johannes Eberhardt (DGMK/Münzkabinett Berlin), Dr Angela Berthold (Münzkabinett Berlin), Prof Dr Bernhard Weisser (DGMK/Münzkabinett Berlin), Dr Andreas Schikora (Münze Berlin) and Prof Dr Jannis Hourmouziadis (Berlin).
First, second and third place in the competition were taken by two women and a man respectively. However, we would like to congratulate all the entrants for their submissions. It was a long journey from conceiving the initial idea to implementing it artistically and ultimately making sure they made the submission deadline.
First prize goes to Svea Finck from Wismar for her work titled Tell mE HoW tO bE A WOmEn. Svea Finck submitted a medal that won over the judges not just with its concept but also its impressive execution. This politically charged submission thematises different positions of women in our society. Svea Finck’s Graces can be read as an outcry against forms of oppression, injustice and violence against women and other social groups. It exposes situations which, even though they are as old as the society we live in, continue to be tragically relevant. The jury was particularly impressed by the idea and its daring execution. The commitment and the outcome are as convincing as the way it deals with the theme of the competition. Both sides of the irregular, plectrum-shaped medallion display the potential of artistic medallions to continue to make socially and political valuable contributions, both now and in the future.
Second prize went to Katja Neubert from Halle/Saale for her medallion titled Drei Grazien (Three Graces). This medallion is characterised by simultaneity and melding, and enchants not only with its technically outstanding design, but even more so through its idea and elaboration. Imbued with a sense of ceaseless motion, Katja Neubert’s Graces are torn between, and united by, the pressure to perform, by the constraints of time management and an ever-increasing demand for efficiency. In addition to the technical and artistic skill, it was the original approach that the jury particularly appreciated, subtly melding the “Three Graces” in relief, and yet still somehow maintaining a dynamic sense of diversity. The work’s idiosyncratic implementation also directly draws in the viewer through the design of the back of the medallion. The theme is clearly recognisable in the object, and was impressively thought out on various levels. Everyday desire, sensual delights and toils are made palpable in the medallion in an intimate manner.
Third prize goes to Claudius Riedmiller from Stuttgart for his medallion, which likewise bears the title Drei Grazien (Three Graces). The first self-fabricated artistic medallion of this coin designer impresses with its precision and technical finesse. Timeless and aesthetic in its minimal, graphic elegance, the medallion condenses the theme in a concerted fashion. Three almost perfectly formed curvatures were produced by digitally casting a clay model which was then recreated in bronze through engraving, before a patina was applied. In connection with the competition, these curvatures, the colour effects they produce and their positioning are able to be convincingly associated with the Three Graces. Claudius Riedmiller’s Drei Grazien poses questions about all the possible meanings that remain hidden behind the reflective indentations.
The Artistic Medallions of Tomorrow
The packed, high-quality field that most of the entries formed during the various rounds of the jury deliberations is evidence of the outstanding quality of the submissions. With its daring subject matter and sculptural quality, the young artist Svea Finck was able to come out as the winner with her very first medallion, beating more experienced medallion designers. The students who participated in the competition deserve particular praise. Looking at their works, we have reason to be excited about the future of artistic medallion-making.
Since it is currently not possible to hold a prize ceremony in Berlin in the way we would like, an online event is planned for early next year.