March 26, 2018

J. Paul Getty Trust Announces J. Paul Getty Medal to Go to Thelma Golden, Agnes Gund and Richard Serra

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Julie Jaskol
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Awards to be presented at a celebratory dinner at the

Getty Center in Los Angeles September 24, 2018



Left to right: Thelma Golden photographed by Julie Skarratt, Agnes Gund copyright Annie Leibovitz, Richard Serra photographed by Matthew Summer


LOS ANGELES – The J. Paul Getty Trust announced today it will present the annual J. Paul Getty Medal to Thelma Golden, director and chief curator of the Studio Museum in Harlem; Agnes Gund, president emerita of the Museum of Modern Art (MOMA); and sculptor Richard Serra.

          Established in 2013 by the trustees of the J. Paul Getty Trust, the J. Paul Getty Medal has been awarded to eight individuals to honor their extraordinary contributions to the practice, understanding and support of the arts.

          “The Getty Medal embodies and promotes excellence in the fields in which we work,” said Maria Hummer-Tuttle, chair, J. Paul Getty Board of Trustees. “We are honored to present the medal this year to three leaders and creative forces within the visual arts.”

          James Cuno, president and CEO of the J. Paul Getty Trust, said of Thelma Golden, “Thelma is a creative and influential leader in our field, who has led the growth of the Studio Museum, making it one of our nation’s most dynamic visual arts institutions, inspiring to professionals and public alike. We are honored Thelma has agreed to accept the Getty Medal.”

          “I am deeply honored to receive the Getty Medal, and I thank the Getty’s Board of Trustees for their worldwide commitment to the arts,” said Ms. Golden.

          Of Agnes Gund, Mr. Cuno said “Her leadership and philanthropy in the arts is unparalleled, exemplified by her founding of the Art for Justice Fund. She has helped grow and sustain many of the nation’s most prestigious arts institutions, and nurtured many of its most important smaller ones. We are honored to have had the benefit of her leadership as a Getty Trustee during important years of growth and planning.”

          “I am very pleased to have played a role in the development of the Getty in its early years as an international arts institution, and am touched by this honor,” said Ms. Gund.

          Mr. Cuno hailed artist Richard Serra as the leading sculptor of his generation. “His monumental works have not only transformed the landscapes in which they are placed, they transform our ideas about sculpture itself,” said Mr. Cuno.

          “I am deeply honored for having been added to the distinguished list of recipients of the Getty Medal Award,” said Serra.

          The awards will be presented at a dinner at the Getty Center in Los Angeles on September 24, 2018.

          Past recipients of the J. Paul Getty Medal have included Harold Williams and Nancy Englander, who were honored for their leadership in creating today’s Getty; Lord Jacob Rothschild, for his leadership in the preservation of built cultural heritage; Frank Gehry, for transforming the built landscape with buildings such as the Walt Disney Concert Hall; Yo-Yo Ma, for his efforts to further understanding of the world’s diverse cultures; Ellsworth Kelly, for paintings and sculptures of the highest quality and originality; Anselm Kiefer, painter and sculptor noted for his powerful work and complex subject matter; and Mario Vargas Llosa, Peruvian writer, politician, journalist, college professor and recipient of the 2010 Nobel Prize in Literature.



Thelma Golden

          Thelma Golden is director and chief curator of The Studio Museum in Harlem, the world’s leading institution devoted to visual art by artists of African descent. Ms. Golden began her career as a Studio Museum intern in 1987. In 1988, she joined the Whitney Museum of American Art, where she launched her influential curatorial practice. For over a decade at the Whitney, she organized numerous groundbreaking exhibitions, including Black Male: Representations of Masculinity in American Art, in 1994. She was also a member of the curatorial team for the 1993 Biennial.

          In 2000, Ms. Golden returned to the Studio Museum as deputy director for exhibitions and programs, working closely with Director Lowery Stokes Sims. She succeeded Dr. Sims as director in 2005. Under her leadership, the Studio Museum has gained increased renown as a global leader in the exhibition of contemporary art, a center for innovative education, and a cultural anchor in the Harlem community. Ms. Golden’s curatorial vision has cemented the Museum as “one of New York City’s most consistently stimulating and innovative art institutions,” according to Holland Cotter of The New York Times. Her tenure as director has been characterized by a deep commitment to planning for the Museum’s future. In 2015, the Studio Museum announced plans to create a new facility, designed by Adjaye Associates in conjunction with Cooper Robertson, on its current site in Harlem. The new building will be the Studio Museum’s first purpose-built facility since its founding in 1968.

          Ms. Golden holds a B.A. in Art History and African American Studies from Smith College. She has received honorary doctorates from the City College of New York (2009), San Francisco Art Institute (2008), Smith College (2004), and Moore College of Art and Design (2003). In 2010, she was awarded a Barnard Medal of Distinction from Barnard College. That same year, President Barack Obama appointed Ms. Golden to the Committee for the Preservation of the White House, on which she served from 2010–2016. She currently serves on the board of directors for the Barack Obama Foundation and the Los Angeles County Museum of Art. She is a 2008 Henry Crown Fellow at the Aspen Institute, and in 2016 received the Audrey Irmas Award for Curatorial Excellence from the Center for Curatorial Studies at Bard College. In 2015, she was appointed as a Ford Foundation Art of Change Visiting Fellow and in 2017, Ms. Golden was honored with both the Outstanding Contributions to the Arts Award from the Americans for the Arts and the Groundbreaker Award from Prospect.4 New Orleans. She is a recognized authority in contemporary art by artists of African descent and an active lecturer and panelist, speaking about contemporary art and culture at national and international institutions. Her 2009 TED Talk, “How Art Gives Shape to Cultural Change,” examines how contemporary artists continue to shape dialogue about race, culture and community.

Agnes Gund

          Agnes Gund is president emerita of the Museum of Modern Art and chair of its International Council. She is also chair of MoMA PS1. Ms. Gund joined the MoMA Board in 1976 and served as president from 1991 until 2002. She is the founder and board chair of Studio in a School, a non-profit organization she established in 1977 in response to budget cuts that virtually eliminated arts classes from New York City public schools. A philanthropist and collector of modern and contemporary art, Ms. Gund also currently serves on the boards of the Cleveland Museum of Art, the Foundation for Contemporary Arts, the Foundation for Art and Preservation in Embassies, the Morgan Museum and Library, and the National YoungArts Foundation. She is co-founder and chair of the Center for Curatorial Leadership, as well as an honorary trustee of the Independent Curators International and the Museum of Contemporary Art, Cleveland. A civic leader and staunch supporter of education, women’s issues and environmental concerns, among other causes, Ms. Gund has served on the boards of such wide-ranging organizations as the Aaron Diamond AIDS Research Center, the Andy Warhol Foundation, the Barnes Foundation, Chess in the Schools, the Frick Collection, the Fund for Public Schools, and the Robert Rauschenberg Foundation. In June 2017, she launched the Art for Justice Fund in partnership with the Ford Foundation and Rockefeller Philanthropy Advisors to support criminal justice reform in the U.S. Ms. Gund earned a B.A. in History from Connecticut College and a M.A. in Art History from Harvard University. She holds honorary doctorates from Bowdoin College (2012), the CUNY Graduate Center (2007), and Brown University (1996). In 1997, she received the National Medal of the Arts from President Clinton, and in 2016 she was elected Honorary Fellow of the Royal Academy of Arts.

Richard Serra

          Richard Serra’s first solo exhibitions were held at the Galleria La Salita, Rome, 1966, and, in the United States, at the Leo Castelli Warehouse, New York, in 1969. His first solo museum exhibition was held at the Pasadena Art Museum in 1970. Mr. Serra has since participated in documenta 5 (1972), 6 (1977), 7 (1982), and 8 (1987), in Kassel; the Venice Biennales of 1980, 1984, 2001, and 2013; and the Whitney Museum of American Art’s Annual and Biennial exhibitions of 1968, 1970, 1973, 1977, 1979, 1981, 1995, and 2006.

          Mr. Serra has had solo exhibitions at the Stedelijk Museum, Amsterdam, 1977; Kunsthalle Tu?bingen, 1978; Staatliche Kunsthalle Baden-Baden, 1978; Museum Boijmans Van Beuningen, Rotterdam, 1980; Musée National d’Art Moderne, Paris, 1984; Museum Haus Lange, Krefeld, 1985; The Museum of Modern Art, New York, 1986; Louisiana Museum, Humlebæk, 1986; Westfälisches Landesmuseum fu?r Kunst und Kulturgeschichte, Munster, 1987; Städtische Galerie im Lenbachhaus, Munich, 1987; Stedelijk Van Abbemuseum, Eindhoven, 1988; Bonnefantenmuseum, Maastricht, 1990; Kunsthaus Zu?rich, 1990; CAPC Musée d’Art Contemporain, Bordeaux, 1990; Museo Nacional Centro de Arte Reina Sofía, Madrid, 1992; Kunstsammlung Nordrhein-Westfalen, Du?sseldorf, 1992; Dia Center for the Arts, New York, 1997; Centro de Arte Hélio Oiticica, Rio de Janeiro, 1997-98; Trajan’s Market, Rome, 2000; Pulitzer Foundation for the Arts, St. Louis, 2003; and Museo Archeologico Nazionale di Napoli, Naples, 2004.

          More recently, in 2005 eight large-scale works by Mr. Serra were installed permanently at the Guggenheim Museum Bilbao, and in 2007 The Museum of Modern Art, New York presented a retrospective of the artist’s work. His work was the subject of a solo exhibition at the Galeries nationales du Grand Palais, Paris in 2008 (MONUMENTA 2008: Richard Serra: Promenade); in 2011-12 the exhibition Brancusi-Serra traveled from the Beyeler Foundation, Riehen to the Guggenheim Museum Bilbao; and a traveling survey of Mr. Serra’s drawings was on view in 2011-12 at the Metropolitan Museum of Art, New York; the San Francisco Museum of Modern Art; and the Menil Collection, Houston (which was the organizing venue).

          In 2014, the Qatar Museum Authority presented a two-venue retrospective survey of his work at the QMA Gallery and the Al Riwaq exhibition space, Doha; also in Qatar, a new permanent, site-specific work, East-West/West-East was installed in the Brouq Nature Reserve in the Zekreet Desert. An exhibition of works on paper by the artist was presented at the Instituto Moreira Salles, Rio de Janeiro from May - September 2014. The Museum Wiesbaden is presenting an exhibition of the artist’s early work from March – June 2017 (Richard Serra: Props, Films, Early Works). An overview of the artist’s work in film and video will be on view at the Kunstmuseum Basel from May – October 2017; and the artist’s recent drawings will be featured in a solo exhibition at the Museum Boijmans van Beuningen, Rotterdam from June – September 2017.

          Mr. Serra has been awarded numerous prizes and awards, including a Fulbright Grant (1965); National Endowment for the Arts Fellowship (1974); The Carnegie Prize (1985); Praemium Imperiale, Japan Arts Association (1994); Leone d’Oro, Venice Biennale (2001); Commandeur de l’Ordre des Arts et des Lettres, Ministère de la Culture et de la Communication, République Française (2008); Chevalier de l’Ordre national de la Légion d’honneur, République Française (2015); and the Alexej von Jawlensky Prize, City of Wiesbaden (2017), among others.


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The J. Paul Getty Trust is an international cultural and philanthropic institution devoted to the visual arts that includes the J. Paul Getty Museum, the Getty Research Institute, the Getty Conservation Institute, and the Getty Foundation. The J. Paul Getty Trust and Getty programs serve a varied audience from two locations: the Getty Center in Los Angeles and the Getty Villa in Pacific Palisades.

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