First degree artist scoops richest prize for painting

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The Independent Online
A student at the Royal College of Art has won Britain's richest arts prize only weeks before his final degree show.

Max Mosscrop, 34, had been wondering how he was going to afford a studio at the end of his studies when he scooped the NatWest Arts Prize of pounds 26,000 yesterday. He beat a record 700 entries for the award which is for artists under the age of 35 who concentrate on painting and drawing.

Interest in the competition has been seen as part of a renaissance in painting after the rash of video, sculpture and installation work as epitomised by artists such as Damien Hirst and his dead-animal works.

However, the winner played down these divisions. Mr Mosscrop, who originally trained as an architect, said: "I think it's a shame that there's this great opposition made between painting and installation and conceptual work. I think it's a bit petty."

His works are displayed with the 10 other shortlisted artists at NatWest's new Lothbury Gallery in the City of London. Mr Mosscrop, who was born in Lancashire but lives in London, said he was thrilled to be among them.

He leaves college in July and the money will now pay for a studio for five years.

Rosemary Harris, who chaired the judging panel and is a former curator at the Tate Gallery in London, said it had been a very difficult decision to select the winner.

"One of the things about Max's work was it combined both painting skills and doing something quite different in innovation. His work is as much to do with architecture as painting."

The prize was set up six years by NatWest to encourage innovation and technical skills in younger painters. In addition to being exhibited, the 10 other shortlisted artists also receive pounds 1,000.

Much of the inspiration for the prize came from Lord Alexander of Weedon, chairman of the NatWest Group since 1989.

n The most important single-owner collection of Impressionist and post- Impressionist paintings of recent years was sold for $92.8m (pounds 57.5m) yesterday. The auction of the collection of Wall Street financier John Loeb lived up to expectations with a record price for a Toulouse-Lautrec and near- records for Cezanne and Manet.

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