Congratulations to Gary Simmons, the latest recipient of the Wein Prize!
The Wein Prize, one of the most significant awards given to individual artists in the United States today, was established in 2006 by jazz impresario, musician and philanthropist George Wein to honor his late wife, a long-time Trustee of the Studio Museum and a woman whose life embodied a commitment to the power and possibilities of art and culture. The $50,000 award recognizes and honors the artistic achievements of an African-American artist who demonstrates great innovation, promise and creativity. Inspired by his wife’s life-long support of living artists, George Wein envisioned the Wein Prize as an extension of the Studio Museum’s mission to support experimentation and excellence in contemporary art.
“Creating art that is honed from a conceptualism that pays homage to minimalist practices of the 1970s and reinvents identity-based explorations of the 1980s, Simmons came of age aesthetically in the 1990s and his work represents the fluid hybridity of that time,” wrote Thelma Golden in the exhibition catalogue Gary Simmons (2002). “He entered this cacophonous conversation with an arsenal of images that refer to both high and low culture, images that are significant in terms of their obvious embrace of real and readable content as well as their allegiance to the power and beauty of pure form.”
Along with Gary Simmons, the Joyce Alexander Wein Prize has honored the work of and facilitated the artistic growth of seven previous recipients: Jennie C. Jones (2012) Leonardo Drew (2011), Leslie Hewitt (2010), Glenn Ligon (2009), Nadine Robinson (2008), Trenton Doyle Hancock (2007), and Lorna Simpson (2006). The prize’s direct cash grants to artists, now totaling $400,000, has had an unprecedented impact on contemporary African-American art.
Image: Gary Simmons, Senator Drive-By, 2010