In 2001, the Smithsonian American Art Museum established a contemporary artist award to recognize artists younger than fifty who have demonstrated exceptional creativity and outstanding achievement. Those who have been recognized have already produced a significant body of work and stand apart as leading figures and visionary talents within the field of contemporary art. The $25,000 award is intended to encourage the artist’s future development and experimentation.
Artists are nominated by a panel of distinguished jurors selected from across the United States; there is no application. Jurors determine the award winner and remain anonymous until the winner is announced. The award is part of the museum’s ongoing commitment to contemporary art and artists through exhibitions, acquisitions, commissions, and public programs.