September 25, 2018

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

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Julie Jaskol
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From left to right: Getty Board of Trustees chair Maria Hummer-Tuttle, honorees Agnes Gund
and Thelma Golden, and Getty president James Cuno


LOS ANGELES – The J. Paul Getty Trust presented the annual J. Paul Getty Medal to The Studio Museum in Harlem director and chief curator Thelma Golden, philanthropist Agnes Gund and artist Richard Serra at a dinner at the Getty Center on September 24, 2018.

          The Getty Medal is the Getty’s highest honor, given annually to recognize extraordinary achievement in the fields of museology, art historical research, conservation science, and philanthropy, the founding interests of the J. Paul Getty Trust.

          Approximately 300 guests from the worlds of art and philanthropy attended the dinner, including Doug Aitken, Onye Anyanwu, Billy Al Bengston, Sanford Biggers, Russell Craig, Njideka Akunyii Crosby, Kahlil J. Davis, Tacita Dean, Thomas Demand, Leonardo Drew, Olivier de Givenchy, Drew Faust, Charles Gaines, Frank Gehry, Joe Goode, Lauren Halsey, Maren Hassinger, Rachel Lee Hovnanian, Samuel Levi Jones, Pamela Joyner, Jesse Krimes, Paul LeClerc, Robin Coste Lewis, Ricky Martin, Kori Newkirk, Catherine Opie, Christina Quarles, Ed Ruscha, Alison Saar, Betye Saar, Xaviera Simmons, and others.

          Said Maria Hummer-Tuttle, chair of the Getty Board of Trustees, “All three of this year’s awardees have challenged the status quo. They have done this by showing how art gives shape to cultural change, by funding and implementing programs to bring the arts to the underserved, by changing traditional beliefs about art forms, and by focusing on artists as catalysts.”

          Artist Mark Bradford gave the introduction of Ms. Golden, who was honored for her achievements as an influential leader who has led the growth of the Studio Museum into one of our nation’s most dynamic arts institutions.

          “Thelma Golden is an art historian and an institution builder,” said Getty president and CEO James Cuno. “In 2017 she summarized the urgent work ahead for leaders in the arts: ‘to advocate and to fight.’ As the director and chief curator of the Studio Museum in Harlem, Thelma does just that, working to create space for art and artists: both conceptually, through her work as a curator, and literally, with a new purpose-built museum breaking ground later this year. The J. Paul Getty Trust is pleased and honored to bestow the 2018 J. Paul Getty Medal on Thelma Golden.”

         In accepting her award, Ms. Golden said “The Getty’s commitment to promoting the knowledge and appreciation of art around the world is deeply aligned with the work we strive to do each and every day at The Studio Museum in Harlem. I am so thrilled that this evening presents an occasion to celebrate our shared commitment to the breadth and depth of art history and artistic production.”

         Ford Foundation director Darren Walker introduced Agnes Gund, who was honored for her unparalleled leadership and philanthropy in the arts.

          “Agnes Gund recently sold a painting from her prestigious modern and contemporary art collection, and used the proceeds to establish the Art for Justice Fund, an organization dedicated to relieving mass incarceration in the United States,” said Mr. Cuno. “Aggie’s foundational gift to establish the Art for Justice Fund reflects her lifelong commitment to the belief that art has the power to change people’s lives, from their earliest experiences to their most advanced ones. The J. Paul Getty Trust is privileged to present Agnes Gund with the J. Paul Getty Medal.”

          “This night is important to me because of my respect and gratitude, as a citizen, to the Getty. It is important for me, too, because I share the evening with two people who mean so much to me – the magical Thelma Golden and the monumental Richard Serra,” said Agnes Gund. “I am glad to receive the J. Paul Getty Medal because I’m grateful for the Getty and all it does to ground us, to comprehend who we are and to worry about who we will become.”

         “Richard Serra is the most important sculptor of our time,” said Mr. Cuno. “His work over the decades is evidence of Richard’s relentless investigation of form, material, weight, and the aesthetic experience. For his lifetime of extraordinary work, the J. Paul Getty Trust is proud to award him its highest honor, the J. Paul Getty Medal.”

          Museum of Modern Art director Glenn Lowry accepted the award for Mr. Serra. “I’m thrilled to be here to honor Richard Serra and accept the medal on his behalf,” said Lowry. “Over a career of now more than 60 years, Richard Serra has explored the boundaries of sculpture. Richard made work that is daring, original, powerful and, above all, uncompromising.”

         Since it was established in 2013 by the trustees of the J. Paul Getty Trust, the medal has been awarded to 11 individuals to honor their extraordinary contributions to the practice, understanding and support of the arts.

         Past recipients of the J. Paul Getty Medal have included Mario Vargas Llosa, honored for his commitment to the moral and intellectual value of the arts; Anselm Kiefer, honored for his powerful work and complex subject matter; Ellsworth Kelly, for paintings and sculptures of the highest quality and originality; Yo-Yo Ma, for his efforts to further understanding of the world’s diverse cultures; Frank Gehry, for transforming the urban landscape with buildings such as the Walt Disney Concert Hall; Jacob Rothschild, for his work in the preservation of built cultural heritage; and Harold Williams and Nancy Englander, who were honored for their leadership in creating today’s Getty.

Event photos available here.



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 Tübingen, 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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