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Ralph Lemon Wins $100,000 Whitney Biennale Bucksbaum Prize – ARTnews.com- VB BLOG


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Ralph Lemon, an influential choreographer and conceptual artist, won the Whitney Museum’s $100,000 Bucksbaum Prize, which goes to one artist at the Whitney Biennale every time a show is held.

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Lemon is best known for his – and often memorable – abstract dances, which have earned him the respect of many artists and a MacArthur “genius” award. But at the Whitney Biennale, organized this year by David Breslin and Adrian Edwards, he shook things up by displaying abstract works in the museum’s galleries.

For one of the Biennale’s most intimate performances, Lemon showed what Whitney described as “hundreds of drawings from over 25 years or more in five fleeting forms unfolding monthly over the course of the exhibition” held up to the wall by pushpins. One of the works even appeared on top of his wall text while previewing the exhibition.

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Lemon referred to these works as “cartography akin to an anthropological practice.” He said he relied on research conducted in Jamaica, Haiti, Côte d’Ivoire and elsewhere.

Some saw the pieces differently. Simon Wu, in his own art in america Biennale review, he wrote of their exhibition’s peculiar style, “This is performance studies’ revenge from the museum: the curators’ anthologies seem to be disguised as works of art, embarrassing to be discovered as such, hanging in a museum.”

The works also embodied the sensibility of the biennial Big Book, which signals an unlikely return to abstract painting, even when the market-driven craze for photography is in full effect.

According to Whitney, the Bucksbaum Prize winners were named in recognition of their “lasting impact on American art history, based on the excellence of their previous work, as well as their current works at the Biennale.”

Scott Rothkopf, Senior Curator at the Whitney Museum, said in a statement: “His body of work has transformed paradigms around performance, sculpture, painting, and more, as well as the differences between them—all with rigor, morals, humor and heart.”

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