City Life Org – Ralph Lemon Receives The Whitney’s 2022 Bucksbaum Award

Ralph Lemon, Untitled, 2021. Oil and acrylic on paper, 26 × 40 in. (66.1 × 101.6 cm). Image courtesy of the artist

The Whitney Museum of American Art announces that Ralph Lemon is the recipient of the 2022 Bucksbaum Award. Lemon was selected from 63 cross-generational artists and collectives working in an interdisciplinary and cross-media manner Whitney Biennial 2022: Quiet how it is held.

An interdisciplinary artist working primarily in the field of performance, Ralph Lemon has been drawing for most of his creative life. He has described the purpose of these works, which have been constant and largely private, as “a mapping akin to an anthropological practice” that includes research and artistic creation in places such as Japan, Haiti, Côte d’Ivoire, and for many years, the Mississippi Delta . For the Biennale he developed a choreography of presentation in which he exhibited hundreds of drawings spanning over or more than 25 years in five fleeting variations that unfolded monthly throughout the exhibition. Themes in Lemon’s work range from elaborate visual meditations and the nature of the artistic process itself to experiments that disrupt Black American culture, symbols, icons, music and joy.

“Ralph Lemon’s talent and breadth in a career dedicated to performing, drawing, educating, and pursuing an imaginative creative process make him one of the most compelling American artists working today,” said Adam D. Weinberg, the director of Alice Pratt Brown the Whitney. “I am delighted that he is receiving the Bucksbaum Award, initiated by our long-time trustee, Melva Bucksbaum, which recognizes excellence in living artists.”

“With the Bucksbaum Prize, the Whitney seeks to honor an artist who has the promise of making a lasting contribution to the history of American art. In the case of Ralph Lemon, that has already happened,” said Scott Rothkopf, chief curator of the Whitney’s Nancy family and Steve Crown. “His work has shifted paradigms around performance, sculpture, drawing and more, and the differences between them – all with rigor, ethics, humor and heart.”

The six-person Bucksbaum jury included Weinberg, Rothkopf, 2022 Whitney Biennial co-curators David Breslin, DeMartini Family Curator and Director of Curatorial Initiatives at the Whitney and Adrienne Edwards, Engell Speyer Family Curator and Director of Curatorial Affairs at the Whitney, Huey an Copeland , BFC Presidential Associate Professor, University of Pennsylvania, and Meg Onli, curator and author.

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Melva Bucksbaum (1933–2015), patron, collector, and Whitney trustee from 1996 until her death, created the Bucksbaum Award Biennale in 2000, whose work demonstrates a unique combination of talent and imagination. The judges believe that the selected artist has the potential to make a lasting impact on the history of American art based on the excellence of their past work as well as their current work at the Biennale. The award is accompanied by a check for $100,000. McClodden is the tenth Bucksbaum honoree to be named since the award’s inception.

The ten previous Bucksbaum Prize winners are Paul Pfeiffer (2000), Irit Batsry (2002), Raymond Pettibon (2004), Mark Bradford (2006), Omer Fast (2008), Michael Asher (2010), Sarah Michelson (2012), Zoe Leonard (2014), Pope.L (2017) and Tiona Nekkia McClodden (2019).

Lemon will take part in a special project at the museum that will take place in the coming months. More information will be available on the museum’s website once details are confirmed.

The Bucksbaum Award is financed by a foundation of the Martin Bucksbaum Family Foundation.

About Ralph Lemon

Ralph Lemon is a choreographer, writer, visual artist and curator based in New York, NY. He is currently the Artistic Director of Cross Performance, a company dedicated to creating cross-cultural and interdisciplinary performances and presentations. His recent works include Choir (2015), scaffold room (2015), Four walls (2012) and How can you stay in the house all day and not go anywhere? (2008-2010). Lemon’s works, live performances, films and visual arts have toured the United States. His solo exhibitions of visual art include Choir at the Stedelijk Museum, Amsterdam, Holland and at the Underground Museum, Los Angeles (2017/2018), 1856 Cessna Road at the Studio Museum in Harlem, NYC (2012); how can you stay Staying indoors all day with nowhere to go?Yerba Buena Center for the Arts, San Francisco (2010); (the flower of) WalterContemporary Art Center, New Orleans (2008), The kitchenNYC (2007) and Walker Art Center, Minneapolis (2006); The Geography Trilogy, Zilkha Gallery at Wesleyan University, Middletown, CT (2001); and Temple, Gallery Margaret Bodell, New York (2000). Group exhibitions include: Move: choreograph you, Hayward Gallery, London, UK, and The Record: Contemporary Art and Vinyl, Nasher Museum at Duke University, Durham, NC. His work is in the collections of the Walker Art Center, the Studio Museum in Harlem, and the Whitney Museum of American Art.

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In 2012, Lemon was recognized with one of the inaugural Doris Duke Performing Artist Awards; he was also one of the first artists to receive the United States Artists Fellowship (2006). He is the recipient of three “Bessie” Awards (1986, 2005, 2016); two Foundation for Contemporary Art Awards (1986, 2012); a 2009 Guggenheim Fellowship; a 2004 Bellagio Study Center grant; and the 1999 CalArts Alpert Award.

Among his many teaching assignments, Lemon was an IDA Fellow at Stanford University (2009); Artist-in-Residence at Temple University (2005-06); Miller Endowment Visiting Artist at Krannert Center (2004); Fellow of the Humanities Council and Program in Theater & Dance at Princeton University (2002); and Associate Artist at the Yale Repertory Theater (1996-2000). In the fall semester of 2011 he was a Visiting Critic at Yale University School of Art, Sculpture Dept. He was also an Annenberg Fellow at the Museum of Modern Art in 2014, where he curated a series of “Performance Essays” entitled value talks. In 2015 Lemon was a Visiting Artist Fellow of the Mellon Foundation at Columbia University and in 2017 Professor of Practice of Theater Arts and Performance Studies at Brown University. In 2018 he was a Josep Lluis Sert Practitioner at Harvard University’s Carpenter Center for Visual Arts. In 2019 he was the Sachs Visiting Professor at the University of Pennsylvania. Lemon is currently a visual arts mentor at Columbia University School of the Arts.

Lemon received the National Medal of Arts from President Barack Obama in 2015. He received the Heinz Family Foundation Award in 2018, the Francis J. Greenberger Award in 2019, a fellowship from the American Academy in Berlin in 2020, a fellowship from the John D. and Catherine T. MacArthur Foundation in 2020, and he was a 2021 member of the elected to the American Academy of Arts and Sciences.

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Founded in 1930 by artist and philanthropist Gertrude Vanderbilt Whitney (1875-1942), the Whitney Museum of American Art houses the finest collection of 20th and 21st century American art. Mrs. Whitney, an early and passionate supporter of modern American art, patronized pioneering artists when publics were still largely preoccupied with the Old Masters. From her vision grew the Whitney Museum of American Art, which has championed the most innovative art in the United States for ninety years. At the heart of Whitney’s mission is to collect, preserve, interpret, and exhibit contemporary American art and serve a broad audience in celebration of the complexity and diversity of art and culture in the United States. Through this mission and an unwavering commitment to artists, the Whitney has long been a potent force in support of modern and contemporary art and continues to help define what is innovative and influential in American art today.


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