Competition: Calling all cyber Cezannes

Pop Culture


In the hope that it will serve as an incentive for contemporary artists to forsake the canvas for the computer keyboard, the San Francisco Museum of Modern Art is establishing a $50,000 annual competition for Internet art, part of the museum's ambitious plan for stimulating interest in the emerging genre.

To be presented during the annual ceremony for the Webby Awards, often billed as the Internet's version of the Oscars, the museum's Webby Prize for Excellence in Online Art will go to as many as three digital artists for their overall work, not for specific Web sites. The cash prize, financed by an anonymous donor, will be divided among the winners. The first recipients will be announced at the Webby Awards 2000 event May 11 in San Francisco.

David Ross, the museum's director, says the new award was designed to call attention to the Internet as a medium for creative expression and to encourage artists to explore its aesthetic potential. The prize, Ross says, was also meant to "spur additional thinking about what kind of activity takes place on the Web in an artistic framework."

In mid-February, the museum will initiate a redesigned and expanded Web site with a strong educational focus and an online gallery, called, for Internet art.

The winners of the new Webby Prize will be selected by a seven-member jury made up of four of the museum's curators and three outside experts. An international call for entries will open Feb. 21. On May 12, the day after the awards ceremony, the museum will hold a symposium on online art, with the winning artists invited to take part in serious discussion of the genre, Ross says.

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