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Distinguished Artist Award for Lifetime Achievement

The Distinguished Artist Award for Lifetime Achievement, first presented in 1988, celebrates the career of an artist who, among other distinctions, has demonstrated particular commitment to his or her work throughout a long career and has had an important impact nationally and internationally on the field.

2016 Winner

Carmen Herrera

Born in Havana, Cuba in 1915, Carmen Herrera took art classes while studying to be an architect. In the late 1930s, she abandoned that path and moved to New York, where she studied at the Art Students League. After living in Paris for a few years following World War II, Herrera and her husband moved back to New York, where she has lived ever since. Herrera recently celebrated her 100th birthday, and continues to create work in her Manhattan studio.

Although she did not sell her first painting until she was 89 years old, Carmen Herrera has been exhibited several times throughout her career, including four times at the Salon des Réalités Nouvelles, Musée d’Art Moderne de la Ville de Paris (1949–53), alongside artists such as Josef Albers, Jean Arp, Sonia Delauney, and many others. Her work also resonated with painters from the US school such as Barnett Newman, Leon Polk Smith and Ellsworth Kelly.

A pioneer in modernist abstraction, Herrera creates minimalist paintings in primary colors. Over the years her compositions have grown even more minimal, sometimes rendered in only one blade of color shooting across a white canvas. Using sharp, clean lines, Herrera creates unbridled movement and energy in vibrant planes of pigment. “Only my love of the straight line keeps me going,” Herrera has said.

Herrera’s work is in numerous public and private collections including the Museum of Modern Art, New York; the Tate Collection, UK; the Hirshhorn Museum, Washington DC; the Smithsonian American Art Museum, Washington DC and the Walker Art Center, Minneapolis. The Whitney Museum of American Art is organizing a retrospective of her work scheduled for 2016. Alison Klayman, who directed the film Ai Weiwei: Never Sorry, is currently making a documentary on Herrera’s life.

“Those of us with a passion for either geometric art or Latin American modernist painting now realize what a pivotal role” Ms. Herrera has played in “the development of geometric abstraction in the Americas,” said Edward J. Sullivan, a professor of art history at New York University.

Herrera has said, wryly, “If you wait for the bus, it will come. I waited 98 years for the bus to come.”

Jury: Susan Taylor, New Orleans Museum of Art, chair; Patricia Cronin, Brooklyn College, City University of New York; and Judith Kirshner, The Art Institute of Chicago.

Past Winners

One of CAA’s most illustrious prizes, the Distinguished Artist Award for Lifetime Achievement has recognized the long, prominent, and influential careers of many contemporary artists, among them Joan Mitchell and Louise Bourgeois in the 1980s; Willem de Kooning, Manuel Alvarez Bravo, and John Baldessari in the 1990s; and Alison Knowles, Elizabeth Murray, and Chris Burden in the present decade.

2015 Keith Sonnier

Jury: Roy Dowell, Otis College of Art and Design; Darby English, Clark Art Institute;and Susan Taylor, New Orleans Museum of Art.

2014 Yvonne Rainer

Jury: Judith K. Brodsky, Rutgers University, chair; Roy Dowell, Otis College of Art and Design; and Darby English, Sterling and Francine Clark Art Institute

2013 Ellsworth Kelly

Jury: Ian Berry, Skidmore College, chair; Judith K. Brodsky, Rutgers University; and Roy Dowell, Otis College of Art and Design

2012 David Hammons

Jury: Ian Berry, Skidmore College, chair; Judith K. Brodsky, Rutgers University; and Helen Molesworth, Institute of Contemporary Art, Boston

2011 Lynda Benglis

Jury: Stephanie Barron, Los Angeles County Museum of Art, chair; Ian Berry, Skidmore College; and Hannah Higgins, University of Illinois, Chicago

2010 Suzanne Lacy

Jury: Stephanie Barron, Los Angeles County Museum of Art, chair; Hannah Higgins, University of Illinois, Chicago; and Alison de Lima Green, Museum of Fine Arts, Houston

2009 Chris Burden

Jury: Stephanie Barron, Los Angeles County Museum of Art, chair; Hannah Higgins, University of Illinois, Chicago; and Ann Temkin, Museum of Modern Art

2008 Sylvia Sleigh

Jury: Leo Morrissey, Winston-Salem State University, chair; Robert Berlind, Purchase College, State University of New York; and Ann Temkin, Museum of Modern Art

2007 Will Barnet

Jury: Leo Morrissey, Winston-Salem State University, chair; Robert Berlind, Purchase College, State University of New York; and Ann Temkin, Museum of Modern Art

2006 Elizabeth Murray

Jury: Hearne Pardee, University of California, Davis, chair; Georgia Strange, Indiana University; Leo Morrissey, Winston-Salem State University; and Robert Berlind, Purchase College, State University of New York

2005 Nancy Spero

Committee: Richard Roth, Virginia Commonwealth University, chair; Hearne Pardee, University of California, Davis; Buzz Spector, Cornell University; and Georgia Strange, Indiana University, Bloomington

2004 Wayne Thiebaud

Committee: Richard Roth, Virginia Commonwealth University, chair; Hearne Pardee, University of California, Davis; Buzz Spector, Cornell University; and Georgia Strange, Indiana University, Bloomington

2003 Alison Knowles

Committee: Richard Roth, Virginia Commonwealth University, chair; Bailey Doogan, University of Arizona; Buzz Spector, Cornell University; and Ann Tucker, Museum of Fine Arts, Houston

2002 Miriam Schapiro

Committee: Bailey Doogan, University of Arizona, chair; Jaune Quick-To-See Smith, independent artist, New Mexico; Richard Roth, Virginia Commonwealth University; and Anne Tucker, Museum of Fine Arts, Houston

2001 Hollis Sigler and May Stevens

Committee: Bailey Doogan, University of Arizona, chair; Jaune Quick-To-See Smith, independent artist, New Mexico; Holly Block, Art in General; Archie Rand, Columbia University; and Anne Tucker, Museum of Fine Arts, Houston

2000 Robert Blackburn

Committee: Deborah Willis, Smithsonian Institution, chair; Holly Block, Art in General; Joe Deal, Rhode Island School of Design; and Archie Rand, Columbia University

1999 John Baldessari

Committee: William D. Paul Jr., University of Georgia, chair; Holly Block, Art in General; Younghee Choi Martin, independent artist; and Joe Deal, Washington University in St. Louis

1998 Paul Cadmus and Agnes Martin

Committee: William D. Paul Jr., University of Georgia, chair; Joe Deal, Washington University in St. Louis; Younghee Choi Martin, independent artist; and Deborah Willis, Smithsonian Institution

1997 Peter Voulkos

Committee: Deborah Willis, Smithsonian Institution, chair; Rupert Garcia, independent artist; Younghee Choi Martin, independent artist; and Bill Paul, University of Georgia

1996 Manuel Alvarez Bravo

Committee: Deborah Willis, chair; Rupert Garcia; Richard Hunt; and Joyce Kozloff

1995 Ida Applebroog

Committee: Harry Rand, chair; Pat Adams; Rupert Garcia; Joyce Kozloff; and Margaret Lazzari

1994 Helen Frankenthaler

Committee: Harry Rand, chair; Pat Adams; and Margaret Lazzari

1993 Willem de Kooning

Committee: Whitney Davis, chair; Jack Perry Brown; and James Marrow

1992 Rupert Garcia

Committee: Joseph Mannino, chair; Camille Billops; Phillip Chen; and Margaret Lazzari

1991 Hans Haacke

Committee: Ann Page, chair; Margo Kren; Joseph Mannino; and John O’Connor

1990 Jacob Lawrence

Committee: Sam Gilliam Jr., chair; Audrey Flack; Keith Morrison; Anne Page; and Esther Parada

1989 Louise Bourgeois

Committee: Sharon Gold, chair; Deborah Butterfield; Sam Gilliam; Douglas Huebler; and Joan Semmel

1988 Joan Mitchell

Committee: Cynthia Carlson, chair; Siah Armajani; John Baldessari; Sharon Gold; and Ray Yoshida