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Muse, the Rolls-Royce Art Programme

Rolls-Royce Motors Cars proudly announces the new vision of its Art Programme, entitled Muse. Muse will build on art engagements and commissions that have involved seminal figures in contemporary art since the Art Programme’s foundation in 2014. It will connect patrons and the public to today’s thriving art world via bespoke programmes and publications that provide coveted glimpses into artists’ exceptional ways of seeing and thinking.

  • Muse, the Rolls-Royce Art Programme, will include two new initiatives - the Dream Commission and the Spirit of Ecstasy Challenge, aimed at inspiring greatness and fostering creativity.
  • The biennial Dream Commission is a significant new platform, supporting moving-image works created by emerging and mid-career artists worldwide. The commission is developed and presented in partnership with two esteemed art institutions, the Fondation Beyeler in Basel and the Serpentine Galleries in London.
  • The Spirit of Ecstasy Challenge will invite leading creatives from around the world to reimagine the icon of Rolls-Royce, the sculptural figurine that has graced the bonnet of every Rolls-Royce motor car for over a century, based on a chosen material.

Muse seeks to further its relationship with art through two new biennial initiatives, the Dream Commission and the Spirit of Ecstasy Challenge.

Torsten Müller-Ötvös, Chief Executive, Rolls-Royce Motor Cars, commented, “Since its inception five years ago, the Rolls-Royce Art Programme has brought many new artworks to fruition around the world. As we look to the future, Muse will enable us to continue this legacy with a vision to expand the horizon of moving image and ignite a dialogue with some of the most exciting creative visionaries of our time. In doing so, we will inspire great works that leave a lasting mark on our culture.”

The biennial Dream Commission is the flagship initiative of Muse. It will support moving-image works created by emerging and mid-career artists. Rolls-Royce’s ambition for this new commission is to be a relevant platform for advancing the medium of moving image today.

Works produced by the selected artists will investigate a particular aesthetic territory: to conjure an alternative sensory universe and journey into the world of the sublime. Celebrating the latest innovations in the field of moving image, works will be from any medium within that category including experimental film, video, animation, immersive and participatory installations, and content presented in non-screen formats, such as augmented and virtual reality.

Experts from the international art world will nominate artists to be shortlisted for the Dream Commission in a two-phase process. An expert jury of curators, artists and museum directors will first select a shortlist of four artists from the nominations. Each of these artists will be invited to submit a short presentation. Based on these works, the jury will reconvene to select the final winner, who will go on to create the Dream Commission work. As the two-year process concludes, the cycle will begin again, yielding a group of landmark works of moving-image art.

The nominators will consist of: Daniel Birnbaum, Director of Acute Art, London; Cao Fei, Artist, Beijing; Zachary Kaplan, Executive Director of Rhizome, New York; Pablo León de la Barra, Curator, New York & Rio de Janeiro; and Suhanya Raffel, Director of M+, Hong Kong. The jury will consist of: Isaac Julien CBE RA, a leading moving-image artist based in London; Hans Ulrich Obrist, Artistic Director of the Serpentine Galleries in London; Katrina Sedgwick, Museum Director of the Australian Centre for the Moving Image in Melbourne; Terrie Sultan, Museum Director of Parrish Art Museum in New York; and Theodora Vischer, Senior Curator at Fondation Beyeler in Basel. The jury will view short works presented by the selected artists in mid-2020. The inaugural Dream Commission will be unveiled in 2021, with both partner institutions hosting Dream Commission-related events and presentations.

Alongside the Dream Commission, the biennial Spirit of Ecstasy Challenge will invite creative visionaries to re-imagine the icon of Rolls-Royce, the sculptural figurine that has graced the bonnet of every Rolls-Royce motor car for over a century. With the Spirit of Ecstasy as the point of reference, participants will be encouraged to push the limits of a material, selected each time by Rolls-Royce, to create objects that surprise, delight and inspire.

The chosen medium of the inaugural Spirit of Ecstasy Challenge is textile. Three invitees from around the world will be selected from amongst a range of creative industries, including architecture, art, fashion design, industrial design, and crafts. The first three participants will be announced in late 2019 and the commissions will be presented in 2020, before proceeding on a global tour. Each participant will visit the Home of Rolls-Royce in Goodwood, England, an internationally recognised Global Centre of Luxury Manufacturing Excellence, to meet and exchange a creative dialogue with master craftspeople and artisans, before finalising their creations.

Alongside its substantial new commissioning initiatives, Muse will continue working with the best of the art world to present events and partnerships. Exclusive events and creative encounters continue via Muse’s partnership with the Serpentine Galleries. By way of example, the Programme will support the Serpentine Galleries’ forthcoming Cao Fei exhibition, opening on 4 March 2020. Muse will also work closely with the Fondation Beyeler, represented in the Jury of the Dream Commission, and continue to support the museum’s activities as a Main Partner of its Summer Night’s Gala.

The future vision of Muse¸ the Rolls-Royce Art Programme, was unveiled at the Serpentine Galleries in London on 3rd October, 2019. Hans Ulrich Obrist and moving-image artists Isaac Julien and Jenna Sutela discussed the future of digital art on a panel moderated by András Szántó, in front of an audience of friends of Rolls-Royce and art world aficionados.

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