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The Burlington Contemporary Art Writing Prize

The Burlington Contemporary Art Writing Prize seeks to discover talented writers on contemporary art. The winner of the Prize receives £1,000, their review is published on Burlington Contemporary and they have the opportunity to publish a review of a future contemporary art exhibition in The Burlington Magazine

Since its foundation in 1903 The Burlington Magazine has considered the art of the present to be as worthy of study as the art of the past. The Burlington Contemporary Art Writing Prize advances our commitment to the study of contemporary art in the magazine and on Burlington Contemporary. Designed to encourage aspiring writers, the Prize promotes clear, concise and well-structured writing that is able to navigate sophisticated ideas without recourse to over-complex language.

The Burlington Contemporary Art Writing Prize is generously funded by the Thistle Trust.

  • Entries for the Contemporary Art Writing Prize 2024 are now closed. Thank you to everyone who entered the competition this year. The winner will be announced in September.


    This year’s judges are the scholar and author Julia Bryan-Wilson and the artist Trevor Paglen.

    Julia Bryan-Wilson
    is a widely published queer feminist author whose most recent book is entitled Louise Nevelson's Sculpture: Drag, Color, Join, Face (Yale University Press, 2023). She is Professor of Contemporary Art and LGBTQ+ Studies at Columbia University, New York, and Curator-at-Large at the Museu de Arte de São Paulo. In 2024 she served as the President of the International Jury of La Biennale di Venezia.  

    Trevor Paglen is an artist whose work spans image-making, sculpture, investigative journalism, writing, engineering and numerous other disciplines. He has had one-person exhibitions at the Smithsonian Museum of American Art, Washington; Carnegie Museum of Art, Pittsburgh; Fondazione Prada, Milan; the Barbican Centre, London; Vienna Secession; and Protocinema, Istanbul. He has participated in group exhibitions at the Metropolitan Museum of Art, New York; the San Francisco Museum of Modern Art; Tate Modern, London; and numerous other venues. Paglen has launched an artwork into distant orbit around Earth in collaboration with Creative Time and MIT, contributed research and cinematography to the Academy Award-winning film Citizenfour, and created a radioactive public sculpture for the exclusion zone in Fukushima, Japan. He is the author of several books and numerous articles on subjects including experimental geography, artificial intelligence, state secrecy, military symbology, photography and visuality. He holds a BA from University of California, Berkeley, an MFA from the Art Institute of Chicago, and a PhD in Geography from UC Berkeley. 

  • The Burlington Contemporary Art Writing Prize 2024 is now closed for entries. The deadline for submissions was 10am on Monday 15th July 2024. 

    Entrants must have published no more than six pieces of writing in print or online, in any language or country, prior to their submission. This does not include personal blogs and websites. 


    Before entering, applicants are encouraged to read reviews recently published on Burlington Contemporary.

    Writers who have already been published in The Burlington Magazine or Burlington Contemporary are not eligible to enter. 

    There is no age limit for applicants. 

    To enter the prize, entrants should submit one unpublished review of a contemporary art exhibition by the specified deadline. 

    ‘Contemporary’ is defined as art produced since 2000. 

    The exhibition under review can be staged anywhere in the world, but it should be current or have closed within the last six months at the date of submission. 


    Texts about the applicant’s own work or project will not be accepted.


    The review must be between 800 and 1,000 words in length and accompanied by up to three low-resolution images.  


    The submitted review must be written in English and emailed as a text document (please do not send a PDF) together with a completed submission form to:


    Please include your full name in the submitted file names. 

  • 2023

    The 2023 prize was judged by the art historian, writer and editor Huey Copeland and the artist Adam Pendleton. The prize was awarded to Kolleen Ku, who chose to write about the group exhibition Home-O-stasis: Lives and Livelihoods in Flushing, which was staged in a mini-mall in Flushing, New York.


    The judges were particularly impressed by Kolleen’s ability to ‘write in prose that is as narratively compelling as it is culturally incisive’, noting that ‘she deftly explores the exhibition’s situation within and emergence from the vibrant aesthetic life of Asian immigrant communities in Queens. The exhibition’s themes are identified, contextualised and further explored, leaving readers with a thorough understanding of the curatorial aims of the project’.



    The 2022 prize was judged by the art historian Griselda Pollock and the writer and curator Legacy Russell. The prize was awarded to Poppy Menzies Walker, who chose to write about Ufuoma Essi’s solo exhibition All That You Can’t Leave Behind at Public Gallery, London. The judges were impressed by Poppy’s ‘ability to address the specificity of the installation in the space’ as well as her ‘deft exploration of Essi’s homage to three Black sound artists and the conditions of their defiance’. They commented that ‘this piece responds urgently to the moment we are in, asking questions about the tender contributions and sticky queerness of Black diasporic life, amplifying the ways in which our records are inextricably bound up within our technologies of documentation’. 

    The judges also highly commended a review by Zoe Weldon-Yochim of the group exhibition Exposure: Native Art and Political Ecology at the Institute of American Indian Arts, Santa Fe, which they considered to be ‘an intelligent review that expertly binds together a historical understanding of the work with a description of how it generates visual forms for the viewer to grasp both pasts and presents’.



    The 2021 prize was judged by the art historian and curator Lowery Stokes Sims and the artist Elizabeth Price. The prize was awarded to Padraig Regan, who chose to write about Ambera Wellmann’s solo exhibition UnTurning at MAC, Belfast. The judges were particularly impressed by Padraig’s ability to combine art-historical analysis with evocative language. In particular they remarked on their ‘ability to position the act of painting as a physical experience’.



    The 2020 prize was judged by Franklin Sirmans, Director of the Pérez Art Museum, Miami, and Polly Staple, Director of Collection, British Art, at Tate. The prize was awarded to Isabel Parkes, who chose to write about the presentation of Leilah Weinraub’s film Shakedown (2018) on the pornography website Pornhub. The judges were particularly impressed by Isabel’s ability to incorporate critical thinking into an evocative discussion of the work. 



    The 2019 prize was judged by the artist Andrea Fraser and Sir Nicholas Serota, Chair of Arts Council England. The prize was awarded to Kirsty White, who chose to write about an exhibition of work by Lilah Fowler at Assembly Point, London. The judges were particularly impressed by Kirsty’s ability to convey the complexity of the work in clear language, while maintaining an incisive critical position. 



    The 2018 prize was judged by Jenni Lomax, former Director of the Camden Art Centre, London, and the artist Fiona Banner. The judges commended the diverse range of artists covered by the entrants, the variety of viewpoint represented and the general lack of formulaic ‘art speak’. The prize was awarded to Anna Campbell, who chose to write about an exhibition of work by Hetain Patel held at the Manchester Art Gallery, in 2017. 



    The 2017 prize was judged by Julia Peyton-Jones, former Director of the Serpentine Galleries, London, and Martin Caiger-Smith, Head of the MA programme Curating the Art Museum at the Courtauld Institute of Art, London. The judges were very impressed by the range and overall quality of the entries, and particularly by their clear and controlled language and ambition in tackling complex and lesser-known work. The winner of the prize was John Parton, Commissioning Editor at Laurence King Publishing, for his review of Ragnar Kjartansson at the Barbican Art Gallery, London. In the January 2018 issue of The Burlington Magazine he reviewed the Camille Henrot retrospective at the Palais de Tokyo, Paris. 



    The 2016 Prize garnered over 130 entries from dozens of countries. The overall standard of the entries was described as ‘very impressive’ by the judges, Alex Farquharson, Director of Tate Britain, and Lynne Cooke, Curator of Special Projects in Modern Art at the National Gallery of Art, Washington DC. The winner was Luke Naessens, an Exhibitions Assistant at Barbican Art Gallery, London. Luke wrote about Sculpture 4tet, an exhibition of sculptures by Luciano Fabro, Jean-Luc Moulène, Bruce Nauman and Danh Vō held at Marian Goodman Gallery, London. Luke has published a review in the January 2017 issue of The Burlington Magazine of an exhibition at the Centre Pompidou, Paris, devoted to the sculptor Jean-Luc Moulène.



    After a year’s hiatus, the 2015 Prize was judged by the Director of the Contemporary Art Society, Caroline Douglas, and art critic and novelist Michael Bracewell. The winner was Helena Anderson, who wrote about an Olga Chernysheva show at Pace, London. Helena published a review of the Imperial War Museum’s Lee Miller retrospective in the April 2016 issue of the Magazine.



    Judged by the artist Dexter Dalwood and Daniel F. Herrmann, Curator of Special Projects at the National Gallery, London, the 2013 Prize was awarded to Jenna Krumminga for her review of photographs by Larry Clark at C/O Berlin. Jenna reviewed an exhibition on photography and the American Civil War at the Metropolitan Museum of Art, New York, for the Magazine’s August 2013 issue.



    The inaugural Prize was judged by the current Director of the National Portrait Gallery, London, Nicholas Cullinan, and Anna Lovatt, currently the Marguerite Hoffman Scholar in Residence at the SMU Meadows School of Art, Dallas, and a former lecturer at the University of Nottingham and the University of Manchester. The winner was Isabella Maidment, who wrote about an exhibition of work by Lygia Pape at the Serpentine Gallery, London. Isabella, who has since reviewed several exhibitions for the Magazine, received her doctorate from University College London. She is currently Curator of Contemporary British Art at Tate.

Past Winners

A polyphonous ode to migration
A polyphonous ode to migration

A polyphonous ode to migration

20.09.2023 • Reviews / Exhibition

The fragment in ‘All That You Can’t Leave Behind’
The fragment in ‘All That You Can’t Leave Behind’

The fragment in ‘All That You Can’t Leave Behind’

23.09.2022 • Reviews / Exhibition

Ambera Wellmann: UnTurning
Ambera Wellmann: UnTurning

Ambera Wellmann: UnTurning

08.09.2021 • Reviews / Exhibition

Shakedown on Pornhub
Shakedown on Pornhub

Shakedown on Pornhub

26.05.2020 • Reviews / Exhibition

Vivian Suter and the white cube
Vivian Suter and the white cube

Vivian Suter and the white cube

22.04.2020 • Reviews / Exhibition

George Shaw
George Shaw

George Shaw

10.03.2019 • Reviews / Exhibition