Hugo Boss Continues Luxe-Label Trend Of Using Art As Brand Differentiator

New Asian Art Award Boosts Cultural Clout for German Clothier

The Rockbund Art Museum in Shanghai.

The Rockbund Art Museum in Shanghai.

Hugo Boss recently held a press conference at Shanghai’s Rockbund Art Museum (RAM), announcing that it will partner with RAM to launch the Hugo Boss Asia Art Award for emerging Chinese artists this September. In an effort to support international contemporary art and to foster the dynamic Asian, and particularly Chinese, art scene, the prize will reward artists who make a significant contribution to the evolution of art in Asia and internationally, and whose outstanding body of work and artistic achievements distinguish them from their peers.

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Rockbund Art Museum Director Larys Frogier announces the Hugo Boss Asia Art Award. (Rockbund Art Museum)

The Hugo Boss Asia Art Award will be held every two years, and it will be executed by RAM. Composed of independent curators, museum directors, art critics, and artists, the Art Award’s jury, chaired by RAM director Larys Frogier, has been actively involved in the evolution of the Asian contemporary art scene. Among the 14-member jury, nine judges are based in greater China. Frogier said, “We wanted to get a strong balance between independence and the way (the jury members) are contributing to the evolution of the arts in Asia and internationally.”

For the inaugural edition of the prize, artists under the age of 35 from mainland China, Taiwan, Hong Kong, and Macau who have a background in creating art for at least three years are eligible for nomination. The winner will receive 300,000 RMB ($49,000), and the organizer will plan group exhibitions, seminars, lectures, and publications for the Art Award finalists. The exhibition of finalists’ works will take place from September 12 to December 8, and the winner will be announced on October 31.

As an Asian counterpart to the Hugo Boss Prize at the Solomon R. Guggenheim Museum, which has established itself as a significant forum for recognizing achievement in contemporary art since it inception in 1996, the Hugo Boss Asia Art Award has released this year’s short list, including Birdhead (Shanghai), Hsu Chiawei (Taichung), Hu Xiangqian (Beijing), Kwan Sheungchi (Hong Kong), Lee Kit (Hong Kong), Li Liao (Shenzhen), and Li Wei (Beijing).

The establishment of this award is likely a result of Boss’s booming business in China. The country is now the third most important market for the German label after the United States and Germany, according to Hugo Boss Asia-Pacific President and CEO Gerrit Ruetzel. Hugo Boss has recently stepped up its marketing efforts in China. This May, the company launched an online video campaign with a cosmopolitan flair to promote its May 30 Shanghai fashion show. Earlier this year, Hugo Boss launched its official China online store, and has enlisted Taiwanese-American designer Jason Wu, who has been teaming up with Lane Crawford to up his own China presence, as its artistic director of womenswear.

Hugo Boss’ sponsorship of art in Asia, especially in China, is another important step in demonstrating that the fashion label continues to pursue a strong presence both commercially and culturally in the Greater China Region. According to Ruetzel, “Our hope is that we establish a prize that is not only a long lasting [sic] but also highly credible with the local arts community.”

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Art & Auction, Culture