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Artist Award for a Distinguished Body of Work

The Artist Award for a Distinguished Body of Work, first presented in 1988, is a peer award given to an artist for exceptional work through exhibitions, presentations, or performances. This award is presented to a living artist of national or international stature and must tie him or her to an exceptional recent exhibition; the 2015 award year is September 1, 2013–August 31, 2014.

2015 Winner

Lucy R. Lippard: Down Country

Charles Gaines

Charles Gaines, Artist Award for Distinguished Body of Work

Over the course of more than four decades, Charles Gaines has built an oeuvre that elegantly explores the overlapping terrains of politics, language, and aesthetic theory. Highly regarded as a leading contemporary practitioner of conceptualism and an influential educator who has shaped several generations of artists, Gaines is celebrated for his photographs, works on paper, and performances that are at once structurally austere and visually pleasurable. Describing his practice as “creating a space of rupture between thinking and feeling,” Gaines’s work is marked as much by his singular vision as its generosity for the viewer.

Gaines was raised and educated in Newark and Rochester, and was further influenced by his exposure to art and music in New York in the 1960s. He moved to California in the late 1960s, where he developed a distinct vocabulary through rule-based procedures and regimented systems. Despite the structural constraints of this method, Gaines’s work retains a deep emotional potency and a reliance on aleatory, chance operations. This groundbreaking approach constructs a notion of subjectivity that is as at once systematic and variable, and shapes Gaines’s singular contribution to histories as wide ranging as the influence of Conceptual art, discourses around race and identity, and postwar art on the West Coast.

Charles Gaines: Gridwork 1974–1989 is the first museum survey of Charles Gaines’s early work. Featuring seventy-five works from the beginning of his career, the widely acclaimed exhibition was called the “hit of the summer” by the New York Observer. Organized by Naima J. Keith at The Studio Museum in Harlem, the show is on view at The Hammer Museum through May 24.

Jury: Bill Arning, Contemporary Arts Museum Houston, chair; Elissa Auther, Bard Graduate Center; and Thomas Lax, The Museum of Modern Art.

Past Winners

In the twenty-two years since the Artist Award for a Distinguished Body of Work was first presented, the majority of recipients have been women. Four of the first five—Elizabeth Murray, Howardena Pindell, Rachel Rosenthal, and Ann Hamilton—are women, as are seven recent winners, which include Yoko Ono, Mary Heilmann, Lynda Benglis, Adrian Piper, and Elaine Sturtevant. Other recipients of the award include Bruce Nauman, Nam June Paik, and Fred Wilson.

Read a list of all winners of the Artist Award for a Distinguished Body of Work from 1988 to the present.

Award Nominations

CAA has begun accepting nominations for the 2016 awards. Please review the guidelines to familiarize yourself with the nomination process and to download, complete, and submit the requested materials. Deadline: July 31, 2015, for the Charles Rufus Morey Book Award, the Alfred H. Barr Jr. Awards, and the Frank Jewett Mather Award; August 31, 2015, for all others.

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