Culture Watch: Solomon R. Guggenheim Foundation Announces Short List for the 2020 Hugo Boss Prize

Six artists have been short-listed for the Hugo Boss Prize 2020, the biennial award for significant achievement in contemporary art. The short list is selected by a panel of international curators and critics in recognition of artists whose work is transforming the field. Since its inception in 1996, the prize has consistently functioned as a platform for the most relevant and influential art of the present, and has become a cornerstone of the Guggenheim’s contemporary programming.

On the occasion of the thirteenth Hugo Boss Prize, I’m delighted to announce the finalists for the 2020 cycle,” said Nancy Spector, Artistic Director and Jennifer and David Stockman Chief Curator, Solomon R. Guggenheim Museum and Foundation, and jury chair. “After a rigorous examination of today’s artistic landscape, the jury identified a group of artists whose practices are beacons of cultural impact. While diverse in their approaches and themes, they each exemplify the spirit of experimentation and innovation that the prize has always championed.

Solomon R. Guggenheim Museum, New York logo

The Hugo Boss Prize recognizes the achievements of both emerging and established artists, and sets no restrictions in terms of age, gender, nationality, or medium. The winner, who will receive a $100,000 honorarium, will be announced in the fall of 2020 and will present a solo exhibition at the Solomon R. Guggenheim Museum in spring 2021.

Since its inception in 1996, the Hugo Boss Prize has been awarded to twelve influential contemporary artists: American artist Matthew Barney (1996); Scottish artist Douglas Gordon (1998); Slovenian artist Marjetica Potrč (2000); French artist Pierre Huyghe (2002); Thai artist Rirkrit Tiravanija (2004); English artist Tacita Dean (2006); Palestinian artist Emily Jacir (2008); German artist Hans-Peter Feldmann (2010); Danish artist Danh Vo (2012); American artist Paul Chan (2014); American artist Anicka Yi (2016); and American artist Simone Leigh (2018). The related exhibitions have constituted some of the most compelling presentations in the museum’s history.

Previous finalists include Laurie Anderson, Janine Antoni, Cai Guo-Qiang, Stan Douglas, and Yasumasa Morimura in 1996; Huang Yong Ping, William Kentridge, Lee Bul, Pipilotti Rist, and Lorna Simpson in 1998; Vito Acconci, Maurizio Cattelan, Michael Elmgreen and Ingar Dragset, Tom Friedman, Barry Le Va, and Tunga in 2000; Francis Alÿs, Olafur Eliasson, Hachiya Kazuhiko, Koo Jeong-A, and Anri Sala in 2002; Franz Ackermann, Rivane Neuenschwander, Jeroen de Rijke and Willem de Rooij, Simon Starling, and Yang Fudong in 2004; Allora & Calzadilla, John Bock, Damián Ortega, Aïda Ruilova, and Tino Sehgal in 2006; Christoph Büchel, Patty Chang, Sam Durant, Joachim Koester, and Roman Signer in 2008; Cao Fei, Roman Ondák,Walid Raad, Natascha Sadr Haghighian, and Apichatpong Weerasethakul in 2010; Trisha Donnelly, Rashid Johnson, Qiu Zhijie, Monika Sosnowska, and Tris Vonna-Michell in 2012; Sheela Gowda, Camille Henrot, Hassan Khan, and Charline von Heyl in 2014; Tania Bruguera, Mark Leckey, Ralph Lemon, Laura Owens, and Wael Shawky in 2016; and Bouchra Khalili, Teresa Margolles, Emeka Ogboh, Frances Stark, and Wu Tsang in 2018.

The following artists are finalists for the Hugo Boss Prize 2020:

  • Nairy Baghramian (b. 1971, Isfahan, Iran)
  • Kevin Beasley (b. 1985, Lynchburg, Va.)
  • Deana Lawson (b. 1979, Rochester, N.Y.)
  • Elias Sime (b. 1968, Addis Ababa, Ethiopia)
  • Cecilia Vicuña (b. 1948, Santiago, Chile)
  • Adrián Villar Rojas (b. 1980, Rosario, Argentina)

The Hugo Boss Prize is our most prestigious engagement in the field of arts,” said Mark Langer, CEO and Chairman of HUGO BOSS AG. “We are excited about this diverse and distinguished short list for 2020 and looking forward to the announcement of the winner next fall.

HUGO BOSS PRIZE 2020 SHORT LIST

Nairy Baghramian (b. 1971, Isfahan, Iran) lives and works in Berlin. In an oeuvre that probes the boundaries between the decorative, the utilitarian, and the art object, Baghramian has illuminated new possibilities for sculpture. The artist’s disarming biomorphic forms, made with a range of materials including steel, silicon, resin, and leather, elicit various unexpected art-historical and sociopolitical references, reimagining the workings of the body, gender, and public and private space.

Nairy Baghramian, Stay Downers: Nerd, Fidgety Philip, Dripper, Truant, Backrower and Grubby Urchin, 2017. Various media, dimensions variable
Installation view: Déformation Professionnelle, Walker Art Center, Minneapolis, 2017–18. Courtesy the artist and Marian Goodman Gallery. Photo: Timo Ohler

Baghramian’s work has been presented in solo exhibitions such as Privileged Points, Mudam Luxembourg—Musée d’Art Moderne Grand-Duc Jean (2019), Breathing Spell (Un respire), Palacio de Cristal del Retiro, Madrid (2018); Déformation Professionnelle, Museum der Moderne Salzburg, and Walker Art Center, Minneapolis (2017); S.M.A.K. Museum of Contemporary Art, Ghent (2016); Nairy Baghramian: Scruff of the Neck (Supplements), Zurich Art Prize, Museum Haus Konstruktiv, Zurich (2016); Hand Me Down, Museo Tamayo, Mexico City (2015); Fluffing the Pillows, MIT List Visual Arts Center, Cambridge, Mass. (2013), and Kunsthalle Mannheim, Germany (2012); and Class Reunion, Contemporary Art Gallery, Vancouver (2012).

Kevin Beasley (b. 1985, Lynchburg, Va.) lives and works in New York. Working at the intersection of sculpture, installation, and performance, Beasley constructs revelatory formal and sonic experiences. In works that embed found objects in substances such as resin, foam, and tar, or incorporate unconventionally manipulated audio equipment, he amplifies the cultural resonances of his materials to excavate personal and shared histories of class, race, and institutional power.

Kevin Beasley, Your face is / is not enough, 2016. Performance view: Liverpool Biennial, July 14, 2018. © Kevin Beasley. Photo: Pete Carr, courtesy Casey Kaplan, New York

Beasley has presented and performed in solo exhibitions such as ASSEMBLY, The Kitchen, New York (2019); a view of a landscape, Whitney Museum of American Art, New York (2018); Kevin Beasley, The Institute of Contemporary Art, Boston (2018); Movement V: Ballroom, CounterCurrent Festival, Cynthia Woods Mitchell Center for the Arts, Houston (2017); Hammer Projects: Kevin Beasley, Hammer Museum at Art + Practice, Los Angeles (2017); Rubbings, Kim? Contemporary Art Center, Riga, Latvia (2017); and inHarlem: Kevin Beasley, The Studio Museum in Harlem, New York (2016).

Deana Lawson (b. 1979, Rochester, N.Y.) lives and works in New York. Her large-format photographs channel vernacular, art-historical, and documentary traditions within the medium, in compositions that valorize black diasporic culture. Picturing individuals she encounters over the course of her everyday life within carefully staged domestic settings, Lawson choreographs every nuance of scenery, lighting, and pose to create tableaux that powerfully evoke the agency of her subjects.

Deana Lawson, Mama Goma, Gemena, DR Congo, 2014. Pigment print
35 x 44.125 inches (88.9 x 112.1 cm). © Deana Lawson, courtesy Sikkema Jenkins & Co., New York, and Rhona Hoffman Gallery, Chicago

Lawson’s work has been presented in solo exhibitions including Deana Lawson, Huis Marseille, Museum voor Fotografie, Amsterdam (2019); Deana Lawson: Planes, The Underground Museum, Los Angeles (2018); Deana Lawson, Carnegie Museum of Art, Pittsburgh (2018); Deana Lawson, Contemporary Art Museum St. Louis (2017); Deana Lawson, The Art Institute of Chicago (2015); and Corporeal, Light Work, Syracuse, N.Y. (2009).

Elias Sime (b. 1968, Addis Ababa, Ethiopia) lives and works in Addis Ababa. Forged from salvaged e-waste, organic matter, and objects sourced from local markets, the artist’s absorbing collages and assemblages explore the relationship between society, nature, and technology. Sime’s repurposing of materials aligns with his long-standing practice of community engagement, in which he asserts the potential for human connection and ecological renewal.

Elias Sime, Tightrope: Internalized, 2017, Reclaimed electronic components and wire on panel. 63 3/8 x 94 3/8 inches (161 x 240 cm). Courtesy the artist and James Cohan, New York

Sime’s work has been presented in solo exhibitions such as Elias Sime: Tightrope, Wellin Museum of Art, Clinton, N.Y. (2019); Elias Sime, Zoma Museum, Addis Ababa (2019); Tightrope, GRIMM, Amsterdam (2018), and British Council, Goethe Institute, Italian Cultural Institute and Alliance Éthio-Française, Addis Ababa (2013); Eye of the Needle, Eye of the Heart, North Dakota Museum of Art, Grand Forks (2012), and Santa Monica Museum of Art, Calif. (2009); and What Is Love?, Alliance Éthio-Française, Addis Ababa (2008).

Cecilia Vicuña (b. 1948, Santiago, Chile) lives and works in New York and Santiago. Vicuña’s multivalent practice as an artist, poet, filmmaker, and activist spans five decades. Weaving together form, language, and ritual, her diverse body of what she terms arte precario (“precarious art”) elucidates obscured histories in Latin American culture as well as her personal experiences of displacement, tracing a return to the body and the earth, and to indigenous ways of being.

Cecilia Vicuña, Cloud Net, New York, 1999. Site-specific installation with unspun wool. Courtesy the artist and Lehmann Maupin, New York, Hong Kong, and Seoul

Vicuña has been featured in solo exhibitions such as Cecilia Vicuña: Seehearing the Enlightened Failure, Witte de With Center for Contemporary Art, Rotterdam (2019); Cecilia Vicuña: Lo Precario | The Precarious, Wexner Center for the Arts, Columbus, Ohio (2019); Cecilia Vicuña: About to Happen, Henry Art Gallery, Seattle (2019), Institute of Contemporary Art, Philadelphia (2019), Berkeley Art Museum and Pacific Film Archive (2018), and Contemporary Arts Center, New Orleans (2017); Quipu desaparecido, Museum of Fine Arts, Boston (2018), and Brooklyn Museum, New York (2018); Artists for Democracy: El Archivo de Cecilia Vicuña, Museo de la Memoria y los Derechos Humanos, Santiago (2014), and Museo Nacional de Bellas Artes, Santiago (2014); Les Immémoriales, 46 nord 6 est—Frac Lorraine, Metz, France (2013); Water Writing: Anthological Exhibition, 1966–2009, Institute for Women and Art, Rutgers University, New Brunswick, N.J. (2009); DIS SOLVING: Threads of Water and Light, The Drawing Center, New York (2002); and Thread Mansion, Boulder Museum of Contemporary Art, Colo. (2002).

Adrián Villar Rojas (b. 1980, Rosario, Argentina) lives and works in Rosario and New York. The artist’s densely imagined, context-specific installations and environments negotiate new paradigms for the institutional presentation of works of art. Constructed from organic and synthetic substances that evolve or decay over the course of their exhibition, Rojas’s entropic forms summon a mutable world untethered from humanity’s past, present, and future.

Adrián Villar Rojas, Mi familia muerta (My Dead Family), 2009
Unfired local clay and rocks. Installation view: End of The World Biennial, Parque Yatana, Ushuaia, Argentina, 2009 Courtesy the artist, Ruth Benzacar Art Gallery, kurimanzutto, and Marian Goodman Gallery

Rojas has presented solo exhibitions including Sometimes you wonder, in an interconnected universe, who is dreaming who?, Tank Shanghai (2019); The Theater of Disappearance, The Geffen Contemporary at MOCA, Los Angeles (2017), The Metropolitan Museum of Art, New York (2017), Kunsthaus Bregenz, Austria (2017), and NEON Foundation, Athens (2017); Fantasma, Moderna Museet, Stockholm (2015); Rinascimento, Fondazione Sandretto Re Rebaudengo, Turin, Italy (2015); Today We Reboot the Planet, Serpentine Gallery, London (2013); Films Before Revolution, Museum Haus Konstruktiv, Zurich (2013); Before My Birth, Arts Brookfield with the New Museum, New York (2012); and Poems for Earthlings, SAM ART Projects, Musée du Louvre, Paris (2011).

HUGO BOSS PRIZE JURY

The Hugo Boss Prize 2020 jury is chaired by Nancy Spector, Artistic Director and Jennifer and David Stockman Chief Curator, Solomon R. Guggenheim Foundation. The jurors are Naomi Beckwith, Manilow Senior Curator, Museum of Contemporary Art, Chicago; Katherine Brinson, Daskalopoulos Curator, Contemporary Art, Solomon R. Guggenheim Museum; Julieta González, independent curator; Christopher Y. Lew, Nancy and Fred Poses Curator, Whitney Museum of American Art; and Nat Trotman, Curator, Performance and Media, Solomon R. Guggenheim Museum.

(To see a timeline and video on the first twenty years of the Hugo Boss Prize, as well as an overview of past prize catalogues, visit www.guggenheim.org/hugobossprize.)

HUGO BOSS is one of the leading companies in the upper premium segment of the apparel market and focuses on the development and marketing of premium fashion and accessories for men and women. Since 1995 the company has provided critical support to many Guggenheim programs. In addition to the Hugo Boss Prize, the company has helped make possible retrospectives of the work of Matthew Barney (2003), Georg Baselitz (1995), Ross Bleckner (1995), Francesco Clemente (1999–2000), Ellsworth Kelly (1996–97), Robert Rauschenberg (1997–98), and James Rosenquist (2003–04); the presentation Art in America: Now (2007) in Shanghai; the Felix Gonzalez-Torres (2007) and Ed Ruscha (2005) exhibitions in the U.S. Pavilion of the Venice Biennale; and the exhibition theanyspacewhatever (2008–09) at the Solomon R. Guggenheim Museum. At the 54th Venice Biennale in 2011, HUGO BOSS was the lead sponsor of the Allora & Calzadilla exhibition in the U.S. Pavilion. Further information on the company and its extensive arts program can be found at www.group.hugoboss.com.

The Solomon R. Guggenheim Foundation was established in 1937 and is dedicated to promoting the understanding and appreciation of modern and contemporary art through exhibitions, education programs, research initiatives, and publications. The international constellation of museums includes the Solomon R. Guggenheim Museum, New York; the Peggy Guggenheim Collection, Venice; the Guggenheim Museum Bilbao; and the future Guggenheim Abu Dhabi. In 2019 the Frank Lloyd Wright–designed Solomon R. Guggenheim Museum celebrates 60 years as an architectural icon and “temple of spirit” where radical art and architecture meet. The museum is among a group of eight Frank Lloyd Wright structures in the United States recently designated as a UNESCO World Heritage site. To learn more about the museum and the Guggenheim’s activities around the world, visit guggenheim.org.