Created last spring to support groundbreaking exhibitions with an eye for curatorial excellence, the Sotheby’s Prize received 92 applications from institutions around the globe. The jurors found it impossible to choose just one, and so the inaugural award of $250,000 will be shared by two institutions: the Nasher Museum of Art at Duke University, for its forthcoming survey Pop América, 1965–1975, and the Museum of Contemporary Art (MCA) Chicago, for Many Tongues: Art, Language, and Revolution in the Middle East and South Asia. Here we highlight the winning exhibitions as well as the three that received honourable mentions.
POP AMÉRICA, 1965–1975
Pop art was a hemispheric movement. Pop América, curated by Esther Gabara, will be the first show to examine the overlooked contributions of Latin American and Latino or Latina artists to the field. United by Pop’s rich visual strategies, artists including Judith Baca, Luis Cruz Azaceta, Jorge de la Vega, alongside Andy Warhol and Roy Lichtenstein, significantly enriched Conceptualism, performance and new media art.
Through nearly 100 objects from across Latin America and the US, this exhibition will explore transcontinental American identity to shape a more complete understanding of the aesthetic, all the while discussing Pop’s potential for social protest within the justice movements and debates about freedom of the 1960s.
“We are deeply appreciative of the major support of Sotheby’s in bringing this ambitious project to fruition,” says Gabara, who looks forward to “the new and important conversations about contemporary art” that exhibitions such as this one make possible.
Pop América, 1965–1975, at the Nasher Museum of Art at Duke University, 21 February 2019–21 July 2019.
MANY TONGUES: ART, LANGUAGE, AND REVOLUTION
The MCA’s Many Tongues: Art, Language, and Revolution in the Middle East and South Asia will be the most extensive contemporary art exhibition in the Western world to explore the relationship between the Middle East and South Asia. Organised by Omar Kholeif, the museum’s Manilow senior curator and director of global initiatives, the show will delve into the revolutionary politics of decolonization and the subsequent transcultural exchanges that continue to create a culturally specific visual language.
The Sotheby’s Prize is making possible “a timely, even urgent, exhibition that would not have had enough fiscal fuel to fulfil its ambitious goals without these funds,” says MCA director Madeleine Grynsztejn. Highlighting works from 1947 to the present, the exhibition maps different routes to contemporary art through 200 pieces encompassing abstraction, poetry, form, architecture, landscape, memory, archives and media.
“Art history is made by asking hard questions,” says Sotheby’s Prize juror Connie Butler, chief curator of the Hammer Museum in Los Angeles. “This exhibition explores a parallel history unfamiliar to most Americans, and has the capacity to cause us to rethink a larger history of the post-war era.”
Many Tongues, at the Museum of Contemporary Art, Chicago, 26 October 2019–4 April 2020.
In addition to the two Sotheby’s Prize winners, the jury has also commended three remarkable upcoming exhibitions, with an award of $10,000 each.
Ree Morton: The Plant That Heals May Also Poison at ICA Philadelphia
“Ree Morton is one of those rare artists who intersects with a number of important histories – including feminist art, the great tradition of American sculpture and the decorative – in ways that are materially adventurous,” says juror Connie Butler. The ICA show will be the first US retrospective in more than 35 years of an important and singularly potent artist who is virtually unknown today, but whose work changed art history.
The Institute of Contemporary Art, University of Pennsylvania, Philadelphia, September–December 2018
Augusta Savage: Renaissance Woman at the Cummer Museum
Augusta Savage was an important African-American artist who taught and mentored many of the most prominent and influential African American artists of the Harlem Renaissance, including Romare Bearden and Jacob Lawrence. This retrospective contextualises Savage within a larger context. “With this exhibition, the role of the artist and activist Augusta Savage is given its rightful place in the history of American Art,” says Donna De Salvo, senior curator at New York’s Whitney Museum of American Art and a Sotheby’s Prize juror.
The Cummer Museum, Jacksonville, Florida, October 2018–April 2019
Native North America at Crystal Bridges
The first-ever survey of the artistic achievements of Native American artists of the 20th century, Native North America promises to be a defining cultural moment. “This exhibition will, we believe, become a road map,” says juror Nicholas Serota, the chair of Arts Council England. “It will be a turning point in our understanding of this field.”
Crystal Bridges Museum of American Art, Bentonville, Arkansas, October 2018–January 2019
The 2017 Jury: Connie Butler, chief curator, the Hammer Museum, Los Angeles; Donna De Salvo, senior curator, Whitney Museum of American Art, New York; Okwui Enwezor, director of the Haus der Kunst, Munich; Allan Schwartzman, co-creator of the Sotheby’s Prize and chairman and executive vice president, Sotheby’s; Sir Nicholas Serota, chair, Arts Council England.
The 2018 Sotheby’s Prize: Materials for submissions to the second annual Prize will be posted in early 2018. The Prize is part of Sotheby’s ever-increasing global relationship with museums. Visit Sotheby’s Museum Network for the latest on exhibitions around the world and more.
This exhibition was co-organized by the Nasher Museum of Art at Duke University, Durham, North Carolina, and the McNay Art Museum, San Antonio, Texas.