Tonight, during a dinner at the Guggenheim Museum in New York, Simone Leigh was presented with the 2018 Hugo Boss Prize, which is given every two years to a contemporary artist. It comes with a $100,000 check and an exhibition next April at the museum, whose exterior was bathed in purple light for the occasion.
Accepting the prize in a short speech before a crowd of more than 200, Leigh spoke of those had taught her about “black women and art and power,” and thanked “the many women who supported me.”
Leigh, who was born in 1967 in Chicago, takes up issues of black history and feminism in her wide-ranging work, which spans installation, video, performance, and, perhaps most notably, sculpture. She has had solo shows at the Hammer Museum in Los Angeles, Tate Modern in London, and the New Museum in New York. And, as it happens, the Brooklyn-based artist’s first solo show with Luhring Augustine in New York is also up right now at the gallery’s Chelsea location through this Saturday, October 20.
The other artists nominated for this year’s prize were Bouchra Khalili, Teresa Margolles, Emeka Ogboh, Frances Stark, and Wu Tsang. Making the tough decision was a jury chaired by the Guggenheim’s artistic director, Nancy Spector, who was joined by Sofía Hernández Chong Cuy, director of the Witte de With Center for Contemporary Art in Rotterdam; Dan Fox, editor-at-large at Frieze; Bisi Silva, artistic director of the Centre for Contemporary Art in Lagos, Nigeria; Susan Thompson, associate curator at the Guggenheim; and Joan Young, director of curatorial affairs at the Guggenheim.
In a statement, the jury lauded Leigh for her “sustained mentorship of young female artists,” and said that her “emphasis on centering the black female experience is profoundly inspiring in its simultaneous radicality and necessity.”
In past years, the prize, which was inaugurated in 1996, has gone to Anicka Yi (2016), Paul Chan (2014), Danh Vo (2012), Tacita Dean (2006), Pierre Huyghe (2002).
Andy Battaglia contributed reporting.