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Press Release / American Art
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Press Room

4/3/2003

Rirkrit Tiravanija 2003 Lucelia Artist Award Winner

Media only:
Laura Baptiste (202) 275-1595
Web site: http://AmericanArt.si.edu/press


The Smithsonian American Art Museum announced today (April 4) that Rirkrit Tiravanija is the third annual winner of the Lucelia Artist Award, established by the museum in 2001 to encourage leading contemporary American artists. This award is part of the museum's commitment to contemporary art and artists through awards and acquisitions.

"I am honored to receive the Lucelia Artist Award from the Smithsonian American Art Museum," said Tiravanija. "The prize comes as a great surprise and will help me realize future projects."

"Rirkrit Tiravanija's global outlook is representative of the dissolving boundaries for contemporary art in the 21st century," said Elizabeth Broun, the museum's Margaret and Terry Stent Director. "We are delighted that such an exciting young artist has been selected as this year's Lucelia award winner."

Tiravanija's art focuses on the interactions created by visitors moving in the space and situations he constructs and the social community that is created by these interactions, including eating, sleeping and cooking. His role as an artist is as a developer of a dialogue, not as a creator of an object.

An independent panel of jurors chose Tiravanija for the award in recognition of his pioneering approach to the creation and presentation of art and its relationship to viewers, art institutions and contemporary culture. The five jurors who selected the winner were: Richard Flood, chief curator at the Walker Art Center in Minneapolis; Vicki Goldberg, author and critic; Laura Hoptman, curator of contemporary art at the Carnegie Museum of Art in Pittsburgh; Cindy Sherman, artist; and Robert Storr, professor of modern art at the Institute of Fine Arts, New York University. Sidra Stich is the Lucelia Artist Award executive director and director of art•SITES, a series of contemporary art, architecture and design handbooks.

"[Tiravanija's] welcoming, generous and optimistic approach to art set forth a telling shift away from prevailing trends in the art world, ushering in a new humanism," wrote the Lucelia Artist Award jurors in their statement.

Tiravanija was born in Argentina in 1961 and was raised in Thailand and Ethiopia. He attended the Whitney Museum Independent Study Program in New York City, the School of the Art Institute of Chicago, the Banff Center School of Fine Arts and the Ontario College of Art in Toronto. Tiravanija divides his time between New York City, Berlin and Bangkok. Gavin Brown's Enterprise in New York City represents Tiravanija in the United States.

Tiravanija's work has been widely shown in the United States, Europe and Asia. Recent solo exhibitions of his work have been held at the Museum of Modern Art in New York City, the Los Angeles County Museum of Art, the Wexner Center for the Arts in Columbus, Ohio and the Philadelphia Museum of Art. He has been awarded a Gordon Matta-Clark Foundation Award; The Louis Comfort Tiffany Foundation Biennial Competition Award; a National Endowment for the Arts/Visual Arts, Visual Artists Fellowship and the Central Kunstpreis. Currently, he is an associate professor of professional practice of visual arts at Columbia University and is one of the curators of the 2003 Venice Biennale.

The Lucelia Artist Award was established to recognize annually an American artist under the age of 50 who has produced a significant body of artwork that demonstrates exceptional creativity. The $25,000 award is intended to encourage the artist's future development and experimentation. Previous winners were Jorge Pardo (2001) and Liz Larner (2002).

The award winner is determined each year by a panel of five jurors selected from across the United States, each with a wide knowledge of contemporary American art through experience as an artist, critic, author, curator or collector. Jurors each nominate five artists and remain anonymous until the winner is announced. Applications are not accepted for this award.

The New York-based Lucelia Foundation, which funds the award, supports the visual arts, specifically 19th-century American and contemporary art.

The Smithsonian American Art Museum collection began with gifts of art donated to the federal government in 1829 and has evolved into the world's most important American art holdings with approximately 40,000 artworks in all media spanning more than three centuries.

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