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Announcing the 2018 Sotheby's Prize Winners

By Sotheby's
Today, Sotheby's announces the winner of the 2018 Sotheby's Prize, which, in its second year, continues to celebrate curatorial excellence and champion the work of innovative institutions who strive to break new ground and challenge our understanding of art today.

P resented to the Academy Museum of Motion Pictures (opening in Los Angeles in late 2019), the $250,000 award will support their exhibition, Regeneration: Black Cinema 1900-1970 which opens in Fall 2020. The first exhibition of its kind, Regeneration will reveal the important and under-recognized history of African American filmmakers in the development of American cinema. It will explore African American representation in motion pictures from its advent to just beyond the Civil Rights era.

Launched in May 2017, the Sotheby’s Prize offers an annual sum of up to $250,000 to recognize curatorial excellence and help facilitate exhibitions that explore overlooked or under-represented areas of art history. In addition to the main prize, a sum of $10,000 is also awarded to a number of institutions whose exhibitions and initiatives are judged by the jury panel to be inspiring and transformative. Between them, the commended list embraces both established and underrepresented artists, as well as the relatively unexplored aspects of sexuality and race in art, while at the same time supporting inspired new plans for community-based mobile exhibitions.

Speaking about the Academy Museum of Motion Pictures’ exhibition, Co-creator of the Sotheby’s Prize & Chair of the Sotheby’s Prize Jury, and also Chairman and Executive Vice President of Sotheby’s Allan Schwartzman said: “In the US over the last few years there has been an overdue re-examination of artists of African descent, but no museum has really looked closely at this in the realms of popular culture. This exhibition looks at the popular culture of cinema through the eyes of the filmmakers and artists who grew up in that culture.”

“This will be a landmark exhibition that will rewrite our understanding of the history of film and of its impact on popular and high culture. This is an exhibition that can truly change a national and international discussion on race, art, society, and the history of the Twentieth Century.”

Robin Woodhead, Sotheby’s Prize co-creator and Chairman of Sotheby’s International, said: “This year we decided to acknowledge five exhibitions because there was such depth of very strong applications. We've come to realize, even in the first year of the Prize, that the commendations have made a big difference for the museums in their ability to raise funds from other sources and to gain support within their own communities.”

In its second year, the Sotheby’s Prize garnered interest from around the globe with a total of 93 applications from institutions in 19 different countries across all major continents. Covering a remarkably diverse range, applications were received for exhibitions exploring different aspects and dialogues around geography, race, gender, and sexuality, among other themes.

A Word from the Jury

This year’s nominees and winners were determined by a jury of esteemed art world figures representing a broad spectrum of cultures and disciplines, namely: Sir Nicholas Serota, Chair of Arts Council England; Connie Butler, Chief Curator at the Hammer Museum in Los Angeles; Okwui Enwezor, former Director of the Haus der Kunst in Munich; Donna de Salvo Senior Curator at the Whitney Museum of American Art in New York; Emilie Gordenker, Director of Mauritshuis in The Hague; Allan Schwartzman, Co-creator of the Prize and Chairman and Executive Vice President of Sotheby’s. For more biographical information on each, please see here.

"The distinguishing characteristic about the Sotheby's Prize is that it is not recognizing something that has already been achieved. It's recognizing potential, it's helping to generate success. At a moment when museums are fighting for the resources to make a great show on a subject that is not known, not necessarily popular, not necessarily attractive to sponsors, the Sotheby's Prize makes all the difference.” – Sir Nicholas Serota

“The Prize looks to encourage innovation, new ideas and fresh ways of presentation – it encourages risk taking in a very healthy way.” – Emilie Gordenker

“The Sotheby’s Prize represents an important prompt for curators, exhibition organizers, and institutions to think not only ambitiously, but also to bring fresh insight into missing puzzles in the development of art across the world. What is significant about the Prize is its global view, and the value it places on expanding the critical ground of curatorial research regardless of historical period. This has brought some exciting projects to the jury’s attention.” – Okwui Enwezor

The Winner

The Exile Movie Poster
Poster for The Exile (1931), Directed by Oscar Micheaux. Courtesy Margaret Herrick Library, Edward Mapp Collection.

Regeneration: Black Cinema 1900-1970

Academy Museum of Motion Pictures
Opens Fall 2020

Situated on the corner of Wilshire and Fairfax, the Academy Museum of Motion Pictures will open to the public in 2019. Championed by various members of Hollywood royalty – including Tom Hanks, Ron Meyer and Diane Von Furstenberg – the museum will offer unparalleled experiences and insights into the art and science of movies and moviemaking.

In 2020, the Academy Museum will present Regeneration: Black Cinema 1900–1970. Regeneration will explore the visual culture of Black cinema in its manifold expressions from its early days to just beyond the Civil Rights Movement. Co-curated by Doris Berger and Rhea Combs, Supervisory Curator of Photography and Film at the Smithsonian’s National Museum of African American History and Culture (NMAAHAC), it will be the first exhibition of its kind—a research-driven, in-depth look at Black participation in American filmmaking. In addition to offering a critical exploration of Hollywood productions, Regeneration will highlight the work of independent African-American filmmakers and create dialogues with visual artists. The exhibition’s goal is to redefine American film history as it elevates this under-represented aspect of artistic production and presents a more inclusive story.

Regeneration’s curatorial team is collaborating with an advisory panel throughout the development of the exhibition, offering their expertise and experience deeply rooted in scholarship and filmmaking. The panel includes Charles Burnett, filmmaker, Academy member; Ava DuVernay, filmmaker, Academy member; Michael B. Gillespie, Associate Professor, The City College of New York, Department Media Communication Arts; Shola Lynch, Curator, New York Public Library, Schomburg Center for Research in Black Culture, filmmaker, Academy member; Ron Magliozzi, Curator of Film, The Museum of Modern Art; Ellen C. Scott, Associate Professor and Head of Cinema and Media Studies, UCLA School of Theater, Film, and Television; and Jacqueline N. Stewart, Professor, The University of Chicago, Department of Cinema and Media Studies.

“We are honored to receive this award from the distinguished Sotheby’s Prize jury, whose judgment strengthens our conviction that Regeneration is a trailblazing exhibition, which promises to have exceptional impact. The decision to present the award to Regeneration even before we open the Academy Museum underscores the visionary nature of the Sotheby’s Prize, and gives greatly appreciated recognition to our institution’s curatorial depth.” – Kerry Brougher, Director of the Academy Museum of Motion Pictures.

“It comes at a moment when issues of representation – of the under-representation of people of color, of women, of black filmmakers and artists – are so important and so urgent.” – Connie Butler, Sotheby’s Prize juror and Chief Curator at the Hammer Museum in Los Angeles.


Image of Child in front of Illustration at Zumu
A child leaning on a cane watching Dana Levy, "The weight of things", 2015. Photo by: Sharon Glazberg.

Zumu - Museum on the Move, Next Stop: Hura

ZUMU: Art & Community
Opens Summer 2019

Curated by: Milana Gitzin Adiram and Ofra Harnam

ZUMU is a mobile museum that aims to create fresh ways to broaden access to art, particularly in communities where that access is traditionally limited.

Together with diverse local communities across Israel, ZUMU is paving new ways to create dynamic, state-of-the-art, site-specific exhibitions, bringing art to those on the periphery of the art world. Statistics show that just one in five Israeli children visits a museum before their 18th birthday, creating a cycle of polarization and exclusion that estranges children from culture, denying them the tools and opportunity to become more creative and inquiring adults.

Israel's first mobile museum aims to stop this cycle by traveling to a new city every few months, bringing the best of Israel's contemporary arts scene directly to communities across the country.

Using a converted greenhouse, movable shipping containers, an abandoned school, parking lot or warehouse, ZUMU creates a museum within the community. Each iteration commissions leading artists from different artistic disciplines and engages the community through cultural and educational programming and interactive workshops for local school groups, children, youth and adults.

Rather than ‘export’ art to the periphery, ZUMU works closely with local stakeholders to build a lively urban center where members of the community can come together and have a powerful, shared experience. In each host city, ZUMU will have a slightly different look and feel. ZUMU is not only an arts project, but more importantly, a community project that crosses cultural boundaries using art.

As a model for social change that can be adapted to suit the needs of any city, ZUMU hopes to bring this localized model to the international art scene in the future, crossing further cultural boundaries.

ZUMU is run by a team made up of professionals from different fields in the arts with a shared vision to increase people's access to art. For each iteration, the ZUMU team fundraises entirely from scratch to bring this vision to life.

“We feel immensely honored and motivated by the recognition of the Sotheby’s Prize jury. The fact that such an eminent and influential global group acknowledges the innovative work of an experimental museum, which was established less than a year ago in such a small country, is of tremendous importance. It demonstrates how the local challenges which ZUMU strives to tackle are in fact reflective of, and relevant to, the issues that creative, creating and cultural organizations are dealing with throughout the world.” – Milana Gitzin Adiram, ZUMU Director and Chief Curator

“This project is rethinking what a museum could be. It’s thinking about how to provide access to the arts in very difficult circumstances, where the challenges become ones that instigate a creative solution.” – Donna De Salvo

HM with Helmet Head No.2 (LH 281)
Portrait of Henry Moore with Helmet Head No. 2 (LH281). Reproduced by permission of The Henry Moore Foundation. Photo: John Hedgecoe, 1967.

Henry Moore: The Helmet Heads

The Wallace Collection
Opens 6 March 2019

Curated by: Dr Tobias Capwell, Curator of Arms and Armour at the Wallace Collection, in partnership with Dr Hannah Higham, Curator at the Henry Moore Foundation

This ground-breaking exhibition reveals the untold story of Henry Moore's lifelong fascination with armor at the Wallace Collection, inspiring the creation of his celebrated Helmet Head series.

In 2019, Henry Moore: The Helmet Heads will be the Wallace Collection’s first paid exhibition, presented in partnership with the Henry Moore Foundation. In the first major exhibition to explore the great twentieth century British sculptor’s fascination with armor, Moore’s powerful sculptures and drawings will be juxtaposed with Renaissance helmets from the Wallace Collection, which he studied while he was a student at the Royal College of Art in the 1920s. Moore took great inspiration from the Arms and Armour galleries at the Wallace and this exhibition will demonstrate for the first time a direct connection between Moore’s work and works of art on display within the museum.

This exhibition will compromise over sixty sketches, drawings, maquettes and full-sized sculptures in plaster, lead and bronze.

“We feel so honored to be commended by the Sotheby’s Prize for our upcoming show Henry Moore: The Helmet Heads. This ground-breaking exhibition reveals the great British sculptor’s fascination with armor and explores the influence of the Wallace Collection upon one of the most widely admired and progressive artists of the twentieth century. I hope this exhibition will encourage new and diverse audiences to seek out the treasures we have in the Collection and to engage with them.” – Dr Xavier Bray, Director of the Wallace Collection

“This exhibition shows us the mind of the artist as he encountered these historic objects and how they sparked his imagination and became the root of new art. The attention that this show will bring to the holdings of armor at the Wallace Collection, the fact that collections like this are very much alive and very much resources for artists, was something that we ourselves appreciated.” – Sir Nicholas Serota

Carrie Moyer, Jolly Hydra: Unexplainably Juicy, 2017.
Carrie Moyer, Jolly Hydra: Unexplainably Juicy, 2017. Collection of Mr. and Mrs. Sid and Shirley Singer, Mamaroneck, NY.

Queer Abstraction

Des Moines Art Center
Opens June 2019

Curated by: Jared Ledesma

Queer Abstraction will be the first exhibition in the Des Moines Art Center’s 70-year history to focus exclusively on queer subject matter. It marks a substantial shift in the Art Center’s programming by purposely including queer voices that have been left out of art history.

For more than a century, many Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual, Transgender, and Queer artists have turned to the language of abstraction to illustrate diverse facets of sexuality and gender. In response to specific struggles – such as the criminalization of homosexuality, the Civil Rights Movement, and the AIDS crisis – queer artists have embraced abstraction to communicate their unauthorized desires and identities through an accepted mode of art. Currently, abstract art that embodies this mode of expression has gained the moniker “Queer Abstraction,” and has become a growing aesthetic force during the present, unsettling era. Queer Abstraction unites contemporary artists who utilize the amorphous possibilities of abstraction to convey what it means to exist on the margins.

Aligned with the Art Center’s curatorial priorities, Queer Abstraction features both established artists who are affiliated with major galleries and emerging artists who represent themselves. Artists confirmed to date include Mark Bradford, Edie Fake, Harmony Hammond, John Paul Morabito, Carrie Moyer, Sheila Pepe, Prem Sahib, and Jonathan VanDyke. The project also includes the commissioning of three works by Elijah Burgher, Tom Burr, and Mark Joshua Epstein.

The exhibition will be accompanied by a catalogue with essays by Jared Ledesma, and David Getsy, the Goldabelle McComb Finn Distinguished Professor of Art History at the School of the Art Institute of Chicago. Getsy is the author of Abstract Bodies: Sixties Sculpture in the Expanded Field of Gender (2015), and the editor of Queer (Whitechapel Documents of Contemporary Art series, 2016).

“As the Des Moines Art Center strives to become more inclusive and welcoming to diverse audiences, we are committed to organizing challenging and timely exhibitions to promote empathy and gain understanding of each other through the art of our time. The Sotheby’s Prize jury’s recognition of Queer Abstraction supports these efforts and helps us to recognize the queer experience as a significant influence on Modernism.” Jeff Fleming, Director of Des Moines Art Center

“I am thrilled that Queer Abstraction has been commended by the Sotheby’s Prize jury. This is a huge step towards the full recognition and appreciation of queer art history. I thank Sotheby’s, and I look forward to what promises to be a beautiful—and critical—exhibition.” – Jared Ledesma, Curator, Des Moines Art Center

“This exhibition has the potential to shift how we view abstraction, ordinarily considered a universal language, in relation to gender and sexual identity. It acknowledges pioneering thinking by a young curator and the commitment of a mainstream American institution to support ground-breaking thought.” – Allan Schwartzman

“This exhibition will look at queer abstraction in the context of the history of modern and contemporary art. It is a really smart, risky, bold and committed project.” – Donna De Salvo

Art and Race Matters: The Career of Robert Colescott

Contemporary Arts Center (CAC)
Opens September 2019

Curated by: Lowery Stokes Sims with Colescott scholar Matthew Weseley, and institutional support from CAC Director Raphaela Platow and CAC Curator Steven Matijcio

This will be the first full retrospective of one of America’s most compelling, controversial artists whose worked bridged the eras of gestural painting, Pop Art and Minimalism, and postmodern new figuration. This complete survey will for the first time reveal the diversity and range of Colescott’s oeuvre. While demonstrating the progression of his stylistic development and the impact of place on his career, this exhibition will explore Colescott’s oeuvre through the lens of issues such as the American Dream, mass media imagery, notions of beauty, sexual and gender transgressions, deconstructions of art and history, complexities of identity, and the artist as arbiter and witness in contemporary life.

“Given the crises of race relations, political propaganda and image manipulation in the current American landscape, Colescott’s career has never been more relevant. His perspectives on race, life, social mores, historical heritage and cultural hybridity allow us to forthrightly confront what the state of global culture will be in the immediate future.” – Lowery Stokes Sims, Curator

“Colescott was one of the greatest and most important American artists of the postwar period—one who addressed the complex issues of race, identity, and of Americanness in the 1960s, 70s and beyond. He was the first black artist to have a solo exhibition at the American Pavilion of the Venice Biennale. And yet his work has faded from public awareness over the last few decades, even though the work of such artists as Kerry James Marshall and Glenn Ligon rises on the shoulders of Colescott’s pioneering work. This major retrospective will likely have great impact on our understanding of the history of postwar African American art, and of American art in general.” – Allan Schwartzman

Christ Playing Football, wooden sculpture.
Jackson Hlungwani, Christ Playing Football, From the Altar to Christ, c. 1983. Johannesburg Art Gallery.

Jackson Hlungwani: Alt and Omega

Norval Foundation
Opens February 2020

Curated by: Vanessa Leibhammer, Portia Malatjie, Owen Martin and Karel Nel

Jackson Hlungwani: Alt and Omega will offer the most comprehensive survey of the work of the South African artist. Jackson Xidonkani Hlungwani (1923-2010) developed a visual language that integrated traditions of Tsonga-Shangaan wood carving, Southern African spirituality, popular culture and biblical narratives. His main intention was to use his artworks as a way to share his interpretation of the Christian gospel and to send his message of reconciliation to the larger world. While he has received substantial critical recognition among artists and arts professionals in South Africa, Hlungwani is not widely known by the South African public or international audiences.

Norval Foundation is honored to receive a commendation from Sotheby's for their annual prize. As a young institution, being less than a year old, we believe that this early endorsement of our artistic program by such an accomplished jury speaks to our ambition of being a globally relevant cultural institution – Elana Brundyn, Chief Executive, Norval Foundation

The recognition and seed funding provided by the Sotheby’s Prize is an important catalyst for the curatorial team to undertake research of South African artist Jackson Hlungwani in advance of the exhibition Jackson Hlungwani: Alt and Omega at Norval Foundation in 2020. Spanning Hlungwani’s career from the 1970s to his death in 2010, and including key works from public and private collections from across Southern Africa, this survey exhibition fulfills the Foundation’s commitment of researching, exhibiting and creating public programming that focuses on artists and artistic practices that have been excluded from the art historical canon. – Owen Martin, Chief Curator, Norval Foundation

“Jackson Hlungwani was a legendary South African artist who developed an idiosyncratic but personal approach to working with wood that was at once reminiscent of modernist sculpture and traditional wood carving. Through his sculptures and installations Hlungwani conceived a view of his art as a total work of art whose key narratives, imagery, objects, and iconoclastic creations broke down the barrier between his religious and prophetic believes. Since the 1980s the visionary art of Hlungwani has been an important part of the critical history of post-apartheid South African art. This timely and ambitious exhibition by the Norval Foundation, which promises to show the largest number of his work ever assembled, will further cement his historical stature, and also shed light into Hlungwani’s revelatory art for a new global audience." Okwui Enwezor

“Hlungwani is a South African artist of the twentieth century who worked in a manner that fused traditional carving techniques with a consciousness of the modern. The exhibition will bring new perspective on the work of this major artistic voice little known outside of his native South Africa.” – Allan Schwartzman

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