Photographer Deana Lawson has been named the winner of the 2020 Hugo Boss Prize. The Prize, presented by the Guggenheim Museum and sponsored by Hugo Boss, is among the most prestigious art prizes for contemporary artists. The first photographer to ever win the award, Lawson will receive $100,000 as well as a solo exhibition held at the Guggenheim set for the spring of 2021.
Lawson’s achievements in photography along with her contributions to “the larger cultural landscape” were praised by Richard Armstrong, director of the Guggenheim, in a press release. She was selected by a jury from a short-listed group of artists including Nairy Baghramian, Kevin Beasley, Elias Sime, Cecilia Vicuña, and Adrián Villar Rojas. In recognition of the strains of the pandemic, this year’s Hugo Boss Prize is awarding shortlisted candidates an honorarium of $10,000.
“Lawson brilliantly negotiates the legacies of vernacular, documentary, and conceptual photography to create indelible tableaux of Black colloquial life,” wrote the jury in a statement. “While appearing to be images of actual families, friends, and lovers, her large-format works are in fact highly stages, cast, and choreographed, grounding their subjects in aesthetically rich material environments even as they gesture toward an ethereal elsewhere – a deft, remarkable feat.”
Born in Rochester, New York in 1979, Lawson has made a name for herself exploring Black identity and life through her photography. Her works have been presented in museums internationally including: the Kunsthalle Basel; Huis Marseille, Museum voor Fotografie in Amsterdam; LA’s The Underground; Carnegie Museum of Art, Pittsburgh; the Contemporary Art Museum St. Louis; the Art Institute of Chicago; and Light Work in Syracuse.
The Hugo Boss Prize began in 1996 to recognise innovative and influential contemporary artists. Since its conception, dozens of artists have been shortlisted with 12 recipients having been named. Among the most well-known artists to have won the Hugo Boss Prize are Simone Leigh, Pierre Huyghe, Danh Vo, Anicka Yi, and Matthew Marney.