The Pino Pascali Award was established in Polignano a Mare in 1969 by the artist’s parents, Franco and Lucia Pascali, to honour the memory of their son who died in a tragic motorbike accident in 1968 at the very young age of 33. The President of the Award, Palma Bucarelli and later Bruno Mantura and Italo Faldi, both superintendents of Rome’s Modern Art Gallery, nominated the members of the jury, among whom was Giulio Carlo Argan. Administrative offices of the award are managed by Filippo Franco Favale (president of Polignano Pro Loco- Association promoting local culture and tourism), a close friend of the Pascali family. The prize consisted of a sum of 200,000 liras offered by Pascali’s parents, a plaque and the opportunity of holding a personal exhibition. In 1969, for the first edition, the award was granted to Maurizio Mochetti, who held his personal exhibition in the little deconsecrated church of Saint Steven in Polignano. In 1970 for its second edition, the prize was given to Vettor Pisani who held his exhibition in Bari’s Swabian Castle. The third edition of the Award, in 1972, was awarded to Vincenzo Agnetti, whose exhibition was held in Bari’s Provincial gallery which also hosted the 4th edition in 1976, won by Luca Patella, and the 5th edition in 1978, won by Jannis Kounellis.
After that, and after the death of Pascali’s parents, the award was suspended for a period of twenty years. In 1997, at the same time of the foundation of Polignano’s Municipal Museum of Contemporary Art “Palazzo Pino Pascali”, the Prize was re-introduced, thanks to the work of the director of the Museum Rosalba Branà, and to public funding offered by the Apulia Region and the Municipality of Poligano a Mare. The Prize is awarded every year to an artist or a person who has stood out internationally in the world of art. The winner is chosen from a list of names suggested by a jury of experts and art critics. The jury is nominated every year by the director of the Museum. In the spirit of how the Prize was created, the jury tends to favour artists who have not yet made it in the world and who are not yet an untouchable “legend” that has already made history and has already been approved of by art critics. The award will instead be given to an artist who is still waiting to be officially recognised, despite being already known internationally, on whose promising future it is still possible to “bet”. Another condition that influences the choice of the artist is their “Pascalian” approach and predisposition to multimedia methods and the use of more than one language or expressive technique. The Prize now consists of an important personal exhibition at the Pascali Museum with the relative publication of a monographic catalogue and the purchase of one of the artist’s work which will become part of the permanent collection exhibited in the Museum. During the award-winning ceremony, the artist will also be given a white ceramic figure, reproduction of Pascali’s sculpture “Whale’s tail”, realised by the Art Institute in Bari.