About the Competition
Real estate developer, banker and philanthropist Jack Wolgin of Philadelphia established the Jack Wolgin International Competition in the Fine Arts at the Temple University Tyler School of Art in 2009. The Wolgin Fine Arts Prize will recognize an artist who has achieved excellence by transcending traditional boundaries. The $150,000 cash award is the world's largest juried visual art prize granted by a university and awarded to an individual.
One of the competition’s goals is to open a dialogue among students, the communities of Philadelphia and the greater art world. Mr. Wolgin chose the Temple University Tyler School of Art to host and administer the competition because of its unique connection to the thriving art communities of Philadelphia, the diversity of Temple’s student population, and its renowned programs and faculty. The competition brings the work of talented and innovative artists to the Tyler School of Art and showcases Philadelphia as a great city for the arts.
The competition involves a rigorous selection process in which prominent international figures from museums and educational organizations, representing the range of media eligible for consideration, are invited to serve as nominators and jurors. Works in painting, sculpture, drawing, printmaking, photography, ceramics, metals, glass, and fibers – disciplines taught at the Tyler School of Art – are considered for the prize.
Each year, works of the three finalists in the Jack Wolgin Competition will be part of an exhibition held at the Temple Gallery. The finalists participate in a two-day residency program during which they interact with the students and faculty at Temple University. Many activities are open to the public including a lecture delivered by the prize recipient.
Born and raised in Philadelphia, Jack Wolgin attended The Pennsylvania State University and the University of Pennsylvania School of Law before becoming chief civilian contracting officer for the U.S. Army Quartermaster Corps during World War II. Over the next 25 years, he purchased land and stocks, helped create a bank, formed a pioneering home-improvement financing company, acquired major mortgage and petroleum companies and helped organize Pennsylvania’s first real estate investment trust. Among his many corporate roles, Mr. Wolgin served as president and chairman of the Properties Investment Corporation, director and member of the executive committee for the Industrial Valley Bank and Trust Company, and was a trustee for both the Pennsylvania Real Estate Investment Trust and Brooks Harvey Realty Investors.
In the early 1970s, Mr. Wolgin began to develop many major real estate projects in Philadelphia and beyond. The Centre Square plaza at 15th and Market streets is home to his most influential public art commission, Claes Oldenburg’s Clothespin (1976), a monumental sculpture that Philadelphia Inquirer art critic Stephan Salisbury has called “the piece that has probably done more than any other work of art or architecture to redefine the [Philadelphia] cityscape.”
An active civic leader, Mr. Wolgin was a founder of the Theatre of the Living Arts, served as president of the Philadelphia Art Commission and was a member of the Philadelphia Fellowship Committee and the Mayor’s Commission on Higher Education. Mr. Wolgin served on the boards of the Mann Center for the Performing Arts, the Institute of Contemporary Art, the Federation of Jewish Agencies, the Anti-Defamation League, the Beth Sholom Synagogue, the Albert Einstein Medical Center and the Hospital of the University of Pennsylvania and the executive committee for the board of the Curtis Institute of Music. Mr. Wolgin’s extensive volunteer activities extended to Israel where he was a board member for the American Friends of the Hebrew University and served on the executive committees of the boards for the Israeli Museum, and the Jerusalem Foundation.
Mr. Wolgin has named two other major awards. The Wolgin Prize for Israeli Cinema, Israel’s equivalent of the Academy Award, is awarded annually at the Jerusalem Film Festival. Mr. Wolgin founded and continues to sponsor the event. The Wolgin Prize for the Scientific Excellence is awarded annually by Israel’s Weizmann Institute of Science.