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J. Paul Getty Medals Awarded to Thelma Golden, Agnes Gund, and Richard Serra

The J. Paul Getty Trust announced today that it will present the annual J. Paul Getty Medal to Thelma Golden, the director and chief curator of the Studio Museum in Harlem; Agnes Gund, president emerita of the Museum of Modern Art in New York; and sculptor Richard Serra. The awards will be presented at a dinner at the Getty Center in Los Angeles on September 24.

“The Getty Medal embodies and promotes excellence in the fields in which we work,” said Maria Hummer-Tuttle, the chair of the J. Paul Getty board of trustees. “We are honored to present the medal this year to three leaders and creative forces within the visual arts.”

James Cuno, the president and CEO of the J. Paul Getty Trust, said that Golden was being recognized for transforming the Studio Museum into “one of our nation’s most dynamic visual arts institutions, inspiring to professionals and public alike.” Golden first began her career at the institution in 1987. A year later, she joined the curatorial staff at the Whitney Museum of American Art, where she organized groundbreaking exhibitions such as “Black Male: Representations of Masculinity in American Art” (1994) and the 1993 Whitney Biennial. Golden returned to the Studio Museum as deputy director for exhibitions and programs in 2000 and then succeeded former director Lowery Stokes Sims in 2005. She is currently overseeing the construction of the institution’s first purpose-built home since its founding in 1968. The Adjaye Associates–designed building is slated to open in 2021.

Gund is being honored for her leadership and “unparalleled” philanthropy in the arts. The arts patron first joined MoMA’s board in 1976 and currently serves as the chair of MoMA’s International Council and the chair of MoMA PS1. She is also the founder and board chair of Studio in a School, a nonprofit organization she established in 1977 in response to budget cuts that virtually eliminated arts classes from New York City public schools. Additionally, Gund is known as an avid collector and advocate for social change. In June 2017, she launched the Art for Justice Fund in partnership with the Ford Foundation and Rockefeller Philanthropy Advisors to support criminal justice reform in the US. In 1997, she received the National Medal of the Arts for her support of the cultural sector.

Serra, a San Francisco­ native who currently works and lives in New York and Nova Scotia, Canada, is best known for his large-scale and site-specific sculptures, which can be found across the globe. He was awarded a Getty Medal for creating works that “transform our ideas about sculpture itself.” The artist has had two major retrospectives at New York’s MoMA, as well as shows at the Guggenheim Museum Bilbao; the American Academy in Rome; the Saint Louis Museum in Missouri; the Kunsthaus Bregenz in Austria; and the Nasher Sculpture Center in Dallas. His work has also been featured in several editions of the Venice Biennale and Documenta.

Past recipients of the J. Paul Getty Medal include Harold Williams and Nancy Englander, who were honored for their leadership in creating today’s Getty; the architect Frank Gehry; the French-born American cellist Yo-Yo Ma; the artist Ellsworth Kelly; and the artist Anselm Kiefer.