Cuban Artist Wins 4th-Annual $25,000 Pommery Prize

At New York’s Armory Show, Champagne Pommery America president Mailys Vranken honored conceptual artist Reynier Leyva Novo

Cuban Artist Wins 4th-Annual $25,000 Pommery Prize
Pommery America president Mailys Vranken toasts Pommery Prize winner Reynier Leyva Novo at the 2022 Armory Show. (Courtesy of Champagne Pommery)
Sep 20, 2022

Following a Bastille Day storming of the Hamptons Art Fair, Champagne Pommery continued to celebrate the art-loving legacy of Madame Louise Pommery at The Armory Show in New York this month with the presentation of the 4th-annual Pommery Prize.

The Champagne Pommery Lounge and its satellite Champagne carts were supplying bubbly for all the art lovers making the scene, among them reigning People’s Sexiest Man Alive Paul Rudd. But the star of the show was Cuban conceptual artist Reynier Leyva Novo, whose What it is, what it has been, presented by El Apartamento gallery, earned him the $25,000 Pommery Prize and an opportunity to create a new work of art for an exhibition at Pommery in France’s Champagne region.

The Pommery Prize, which “recognizes an exceptional presentation of large-scale artwork,” was presented by Vranken Pommery America president Mailys Vranken. What it is, what it has been began as a full-scale reproduction (3 meters tall and 2 meters across) of sculptor Juan José Sicre’s 1936 bust of “Apostle of Cuban Independence” José Marti, which is displayed at Havana’s Plaza Civica. Novo told Wine Spectator that in Cuba, public monuments are painted white; for this work, Nova painted the bust white 365 times, effectively erasing its recognizable features.

 Artist Reynier Leyva Novo's "What it is, what it has been," winner of the 2022 Pommery Prize.
Artist Reynier Leyva Novo's "What it is, what it has been," winner of the 2022 Pommery Prize (Robert Taylor)

Pommery Champagne’s support of the arts continues this month and next in New York with French Institute Alliance Française’s Crossing the Line performing arts festival, which includes dance performances at Brooklyn Academy of Music, the Joyce Theater and more.


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