Marguerite Humeau
RIDDLES (Final Beats)

Zurich Art Prize 2017

26 October 2017 to 14 January 2018
Opening: 25 October, 6 pm

Museum Haus Konstruktiv and Zurich Insurance Group Ltd are very pleased to declare Marguerite Humeau the winner of this year’s Zurich Art Prize and to announce an important change on the occasion of this internationally renowned award’s tenth edition: as of 2017, in addition to the previous sum of CHF 80’000, which is always used for a solo exhibition at Museum Haus Konstruktiv, the winner receives another CHF 20’000 in prize money.

Marguerite Humeau (b. 1986 in Cholet, France, lives in London) has become known in recent years for her large-format installations, seemingly organic and creatural sculptures that are usually presented in colorfully designed spaces. When conceptualizing her works, Humeau often takes prehistoric events, scientific theories and occult notions as a starting point.

For RIDDLES (Final Beats), as her exhibition at Museum Haus Konstruktiv is called, Marguerite Humeau was inspired by conversations with archaeologists examining the prehistoric mass cemetery Jebel Sahaba in Sudan, where the remains of 59 people were discovered in the 1960s, noticeably many of whom demonstrably died as a result of violence. Studies of the first depictions of war in the history of humanity, from over 13’000 years ago in Egypt and Assyria, led the artist to the hypothesis that early humans invented the figure of the sphinx as a deity to protect against enemy attacks. The sphinx, a portentous human-animal composite being that uses a riddle to decide on life or death, is seen by Humeau as a hybrid of all possible life-threatening attackers. In reference to this ambivalent motif of protection and threat, Humeau’s sphinx OTTO, newly created for this exhibition, has particularly daunting features: its extensive wings resemble those of a vulture preparing to fly. In early depictions of war, the vulture was not only shown fighting with people, but also as a scavenger, feeding on their dead.
Transferring this motif and threat scenario to our world, which is shaped by horrible wars and by technological developments, Humeau brings together the past, present and future. Thus, the exhibition oscillates between multiple worlds and different times, between facts and fictions – and investigates how knowledge is generated via myths and fragmentary records.

The jury chose Humeau as the prize winner because her works formulate an independent position characterized by scientific curiosity and precision, while also sharing parallels with the scientific basis of constructivist-concrete art.


Marguerite Humeau’s most important exhibitions, alongside the solo shows at Palais de Tokyo in Paris (2016) and at Nottingham Contemporary (2016/17), include her involvement in exhibitions at the Seoul Biennale (2016), at Manifesta 11 in Zurich (2016) and at the following institutions: TBA 21 Thyssen-Bornemisza Art Contemporary – Augarten, Vienna (2015), Serpentine Gallery, London (2014), Victoria and Albert Museum, London (2014), Hayward Gallery, London (2014), MoMA, New York (2014), Nottingham Contemporary, De La Warr Pavilion (2013) and Barbican Art Gallery, London (2011). In 2017 exhibitions are planned on High Line, New York, and at Schinkel Pavillon, Berlin.

The awards and grants that Humeau’s oeuvre has been honored with include the Royal British Society of Sculptors Bursary Award, the Grant for the Arts from the Arts Council England and the RCDAV Research Grant from HEAD in Geneva.


The Zurich Art Prize is a cultural engagement
by Zurich Insurance Group Ltd:



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Sep 22, 2017
7:00:00 PM CEST