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).

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The Whitney Museum of American Art to Showcase Transformative Gift: Collected by Thea Westreich Wagner and Ethan Wagner

November 20, 2015 – March 6, 2016

Celebrating an extraordinary and transformative gift of more than 850 works collectively given to the Whitney Museum of American Art and the Centre Georges Pompidou by Thea Westreich Wagner and Ethan Wagner, both institutions will present consecutive exhibitions featuring a selection of works from the gift. The Whitney’s presentation of Collected by Thea Westreich Wagner and Ethan Wagner opens on November 20 in the Museum’s new downtown home and runs through March 6, 2016. The Pompidou’s exhibition follows the New York presentation, opening in Paris on June 9, 2016. The exhibition is organized by Elisabeth Sussman, curator and Sondra Gilman Curator of Photography, Whitney Museum of American Art, and Christine Macel, chief curator and head of the department of contemporary and prospective creation, Centre Pompidou, with Elisabeth Sherman, assistant curator, Whitney Museum of American Art. An illustrated catalogue documenting the collection will accompany the exhibitions.

Bernadette Corporation, Creation of a False Feeling, 2000. Inkjet print: sheet, 70 1/2 × 49 13/16 (179.1 × 126.5); image, 60 11/16 × 47 1/16 (154.1 × 119.5). Promised gift of Thea Westreich Wagner and Ethan Wagner P.2014.10

Bernadette Corporation, Creation of a False Feeling, 2000. Inkjet print: sheet, 70 1/2 × 49 13/16 (179.1 × 126.5); image, 60 11/16 × 47 1/16 (154.1 × 119.5). Promised gift of Thea Westreich Wagner and Ethan Wagner P.2014.10

Adam D. Weinberg, the Whitney’s Alice Pratt Brown Director, noted, “We are delighted to present this exhibition in honor of the magnanimous gift of art we received from Thea Westreich Wagner and Ethan Wagner—one of the largest in the Whitney’s history and a tremendous statement of support for the Museum and its new building. Thea and Ethan are among the most astute collectors of late twentieth-century and early twenty-first-century art and their gift adds enormous strength to the Whitney’s collection. We are deeply grateful to them and are pleased to be collaborating with our friends at the Pompidou.”

This exhibition celebrates this remarkable gift as well as the perspicacious collecting of Westreich Wagner and Wagner by exploring several of the ideas and themes that recur in the collection across generations, mediums, and nationalities: the rise of mass media and the darker side of advertising; the adoption of street style and the punk aesthetic; the decorative arts and their ability to communicate often political messages; reflections on how technology has radically altered commerce, communication, and industry; and the artist as celebrity, among others.

Charline von Heyl, Boogey, 2004. Acrylic, oil, and charcoal on canvas, 82 1/16 × 78 1/8 (208.4 × 198.4) Promised gift of Thea Westreich Wagner and Ethan Wagner P.2011.472

Charline von Heyl, Boogey, 2004. Acrylic, oil, and charcoal on canvas, 82 1/16 × 78 1/8 (208.4 × 198.4)
Promised gift of Thea Westreich Wagner and Ethan Wagner P.2011.472

Westreich Wagner and Wagner began collecting art in the 1980s and continue to collect today. They have consistently focused their attention on emerging artists, acquiring works soon after they were made, often straight out of the artists’ studios. Many of these artists were relatively unknown at the time, but have since become some of the most heralded figures of their generation—notably Robert Gober, Jeff Koons, Richard Prince, Cindy Sherman, and Christopher Wool. The couple has also pursued a specific interest in photography, building deep holdings of the work of landmark figures such as Lee Friedlander and Robert Adams while also acquiring photographs by a diverse range of artists, including Liz Deschenes, Philip-Lorca diCorcia, Annette Kelm, and Josephine Pryde. Continuously motivated by the learning challenges posed by new expressions and ideas, the two have examined the world around them through the eyes of the artists whose work they follow and acquire; their collection is a unique, personal reflection on the “contemporary moment” as it has evolved over the last several decades.

Liz Deschenes, Green Screen #7, 2001. Chromogenic print: sheet, 49 9/16 × 66 (125.9 × 167.6) Promised gift of Thea Westreich Wagner and Ethan Wagner P.2014.12

Liz Deschenes, Green Screen #7, 2001. Chromogenic print: sheet, 49 9/16 × 66 (125.9 × 167.6)
Promised gift of Thea Westreich Wagner and Ethan Wagner P.2014.12

The gift to the Whitney encompasses nearly five hundred and fifty works, representing a cross section of mediums, by more than seventy-five artists and collectives. In some cases works are by artists who will enter the collection for the first time and in others they add depth to our holdings of artists we have championed. The Pompidou is receiving more than three hundred works by some forty European artists. While the collection is divided between the two institutions, with works by American artists going to the Whitney and by non-American artists going to the Pompidou, the exhibitions draw from both gifts aiming to reveal the international dialogue intrinsic to contemporary art. Continue reading