Rolex Mentor and Protege Arts Initiative

Revitalizing the mentor

Revitalizing the mentor

History is filled with stories of inspiring mentor-protégé relationships, from XX and the painters Camille Pissaro and Paul Cezanne to fictional accounts like Don Pedro and Claudio in Shakespeare’s Much Ado About Nothing. Mentorships are a time-tested way to for an artist to develop their vision and their craft. They, traditionally, give someone time learn, grow and create under the watchful eye of someone who has already blazed a trail.

Rolex is dedicating to reviving the tradition of mentorship by pairing young, promising artists with leaders in their fields. It’s easy to see what the protégés have to gain. They get a year of time to learn from their mentors. But, a truely successful mentor-protégé relationship benefits both parties. As we take a look back at the results of these exciting relationships, let’s take a look at what some of the Rolex Arts Initiative mentors have gotten out of their year collaboration:

Transplants: Rolex mentor and protégé Tracy K. Smith & Hans Magnus Enzensberger

Transplants: Rolex mentor and protégé Tracy K. Smith & Hans Magnus Enzensberger

In many ways, they couldn’t be more different, a young California transplant writing poetry in Brooklyn and a titan of German thought. She is a professor at Princeton and he has made a public point of eschewing institutional life. But the year Tracy K. Smith spent with her Rolex Arts Initiative mentor Hans Magnus Enzensberger has transformed her literary life. The award-winning poet (author of collections including Life On Mars & The Body’s Question) has, under Enzensberger’s watchful eye, turned to prose and is writing a memoir.

A year of discovery: Rolex mentor and protégé Peter Sellars & Maya Zbib

A year of discovery: Rolex mentor and protégé Peter Sellars & Maya Zbib

Peter Sellars and Maya Zbib shared a year and circumnavigated the globe. The enfant terrible of the American stage is best known for his contemporary treatments of classical plays, including an industrial take on King Lear, and his groundbreaking direction of new operas. Both Sellars and his Rolex Arts Initiative protégé, Lebanese actor, writer and director Maya Zbib, believe that theater can do much more than entertain. They agree that it is an agent for social change. To emphasize this point, Sellars brought Zbib to the Congo. She brought him to Beirut.

Achieving something undiscovered: Rolex mentor and protégé Ben Frost & Brian Eno

Achieving something undiscovered: Rolex mentor and protégé Ben Frost & Brian Eno

Given Brian Eno stature in the music world, it would’ve been easy enough for him to simply play the producer role for his Rolex Arts Initiative protégé Ben Frost . It would’ve been a huge deal for the young, Australian composer and musician to get the same treatment as bands such as Talking Heads, U2, Robert Fripp and Coldplay, but the father of ambient music wanted to do something entirely new.

Creating spaces: Rolex mentor and protege Anish Kapoor & Nicholas Hlobo

Creating spaces: Rolex mentor and protege Anish Kapoor & Nicholas Hlobo

Both Anish Kapoor and his Rolex Arts Initiative protégé Nicholas Hlobo had big years in the art world. Both mounted large-scale, interactive sculptures at the Venice Biennale in addition to solo exhibitions around the world. But the two artists still found time to meet at Kapoor’s London studio to develop the trajectory of Hlobo’s work.

A year of moving together: Rolex mentor and protege Lee Serle & Trisha Brown

A year of moving together: Rolex mentor and protege Lee Serle & Trisha Brown

For the past year, dancer Lee Serle has been learning from, and moving with, his Rolex Arts Initiative mentor Trisha Brown. For those of you unfamiliar with Brown, the revolutionary dancer and choreographer has spent the last 40 years breaking the rules of modern dance and crisscrossing the boundaries between movement and art. And Serle has taken every advantage of working, and moving, with his groundbreaking, wall-walking mentor.

Rolex mentor and protégé: director Zhang Yimou and Annemarie Jacir

Rolex mentor and protégé: director Zhang Yimou and Annemarie Jacir

When Chinese director and Rolex Arts Initiative mentor, Zhang Yimou, was asked to select a protĂ©gĂ© more than a year ago, he said he chose Palestinian filmmaker Annemarie Jacir “because of her work and background. We Chinese have a special affinity with Third World countries like Palestine. I fully support people from developing nations who dream of filming in their own land.” Yimou makes colorful, monumental films like A WOMAN, A GUN AND A NOODLE SHOP (2009), HOUSE OF FLYING DAGGERS (2004), HERO (2002) and RAISE THE RED LANTERN (1991). He has won awards at festivals around the world and yes, even at our beloved Sundance (for THE ROAD HOME). He just completed his next film, THE FLOWERS OF WAR, a story about “Chinese sex workers in 1937 [who] volunteer to replace university students as escorts for invading Japanese soldiers.” It stars Christian Bale and opens in China next month…

The 2010/11 Rolex Mentor and Protégé Arts Initiative

The 2010/11 Rolex Mentor and Protégé Arts Initiative

Yesterday, Brian Eno made an appearance at the New York Public Library to introduce a work by his musical protĂ©gĂ©, Ben Frost. It was part of a weekend of performances marking the end of the fifth cycle of the Rolex Mentor and ProtĂ©gé Arts Initiative, a year-long program that pairs promising young artists with masters in their field for a year of creative collaboration. This year saw artist Anish Kapoor paired with Nicholas Hlobo, choreographer Trisha Brown with Lee Serle, filmmaker Zhang Yimou with Annemarie Jacir, “polymath patrician” Hans Magnus Enzensberger with Tracy K. Smith, dramaturge Peter Sellars with Maya Zbib as well as Eno and Frost. The opportunity to work alongside such world-renowned artists is so coveted and exclusive that nominees are selected by an anonymous panel of experts who conduct an exhaustive international search…