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FCA Establishes Award with $1 Million Gift from Ellsworth Kelly Foundation

The Foundation for Contemporary Art has announced that the Ellsworth Kelly Foundation has donated $1 million to establish an endowment for a new contemporary art award. The gift is the largest cash contribution the organization has received in its fifty-three-year history.

The $40,000 Ellsworth Kelly Award will support emerging, midcareer, and underrecognized artists by funding a solo exhibition of the winner’s work at a regional museum or university art gallery. “Ellsworth recognized that a museum exhibition can be transformative for an artist’s career, and this award is intended to provide that opportunity to artists,” Jack Shear, president of the Ellsworth Kelly Foundation, said.

The first artist honored with the prize is filmmaker and visual artist Cauleen Smith. An exhibition of her film, video, and sculpture, curated by Anthony Elms, will be presented at the University of Philadelphia’s Institute of Contemporary Art in 2018.

Every spring, the FCA will request proposals from a small group of US art institutions, alternating each year between organizations located on the East and West Coasts. Smith was chosen for the 2016 inaugural grant cycle on the East Coast. Honorees are selected by the FCA’s board of directors, which consists of Cecily Brown, Anthony B. Creamer III, Robert Gober, Anne Dias Griffin, Agnes Gund, Jasper Johns, Julian Lethbridge, Glenn Ligon, Kara Walker, and T. J. Wilcox. Jasper Johns, cofounder of the FCA, said, “The directors are pleased that Ellsworth’s longtime support of FCA has culminated in this imaginative award in his name.”