NEW YORK, March 13, 2020—The American Academy of Arts and Letters announced today the ten artists who will receive its 2020 awards in art. The awards will be presented in New York City in May at the Academy’s annual Ceremonial. The art prizes and purchases, totaling over $295,000, honor both established and emerging artists. The award winners were chosen from a group of 28 artists who had been invited to participate in the Invitational Exhibition of Visual Arts, which opened on March 5, 2020. The exhibition featured over 100 paintings, sculptures, installations, videos, and works on paper. The members of this year’s award committee were: Catherine Murphy (chair), Rackstraw Downes, Nicole Eisenman, Yvonne Jacquette, Judy Pfaff, Dorothea Rockburne, Peter Saul, Joel Shapiro, and Stanley Whitney.
Award of Merit Medal for Sculpture
JESSICA JACKSON HUTCHINS
$25,000 given to an outstanding American sculptor.
Arts and Letters Awards in Art
DIANA AL-HADID ∙ AMY BENNETT ∙ ELLIOTT GREEN
SHEILA HICKS ∙ KARYN OLIVIER
Five awards of $10,000 each to honor exceptional accomplishment and encourage creative work.
Gwendolyn Knight Lawrence Award in Art
$10,000 to a visual artist.
Jacob Lawrence Award in Art
$10,000 to a visual artist.
Willard L. Metcalf Award in Art
$10,000 to a young artist of great promise.
Rosenthal Family Foundation Award in Art
$10,000 to a young painter of distinction.
Art Purchase Program
AMY BENNETT ∙ MIKE CLOUD ∙ TRENTON DOYLE HANCOCK
BARBARA ESS ∙ ERIK FOSS ∙ LONNIE HOLLEY
RIDLEY HOWARD ∙ YUN-FEI JI ∙ CHEYENNE JULIEN
SIOBHAN LIDDELL ∙ MEDRIE MACPHEE ∙ KARYN OLIVIER
RONA PONDICK ∙ NATHLIE PROVOSTY
ROGER SHIMOMURA ∙ BRIAN WOOD
The Academy’s purchase program began in 1946 to place the work of talented, living American artists in museums across the country. Since the inauguration of this program, the Academy has spent nearly $5 million to purchase over 1200 works of art. The American Impressionist painter Childe Hassam (1859-1935) founded this program through the bequest of over 400 of his works with the stipulation that the accumulated income from their sale be used to establish a fund to purchase paintings and works on paper. Similar bequests were made by Academy members Eugene Speicher (1883-1962), Louis Betts (1873-1961), and Gardner Symons (1861-1930). Since 2013, the Academy has also allocated funds for the purchase of sculpture.
Works by the winners of the 2020 Art Awards and Purchases were on display in the Invitational Exhibition of Visual Arts, and will be shown in the Ceremonial Exhibition: Work by New Members and Recipients of Awards, which opens in late May.
American Academy of Arts and Letters
The American Academy of Arts and Letters was founded in 1898 as an honor society of the country’s leading architects, artists, composers, and writers. Early members include William Merritt Chase, Childe Hassam, Julia Ward Howe, Henry James, Edward MacDowell, Theodore Roosevelt, Augustus Saint-Gaudens, John Singer Sargent, Mark Twain, and Edith Wharton. The Academy’s 250 members are elected for life and pay no dues. In addition to electing new members as vacancies occur, the Academy seeks to foster and sustain an interest in Literature, Music, and the Fine Arts by administering over 70 awards and prizes, exhibiting art and manuscripts, funding performances of new works of musical theater, and purchasing artwork for donation to museums across the country.