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Jac Leirner Wins Twenty-Fifth Wolfgang Hahn Prize

The Museum Ludwig in Cologne has awarded the twenty-fifth Wolfgang Hahn Prize, which honors contemporary artists who are under-recognized in Germany, to the Brazilian artist Jac Leirner. As the first South American artist to win the prize, Leirner will receive a maximum of $115,000. The institution will also mount a show by the São Paulo–based artist and will add one of her works to its collection. An award ceremony will be held at the museum in April.

“Leirner is one of the most important exponents of conceptual art today as well as of so-called institutional critique,” Jochen Volz, juror and director of the Pinacoteca do Estado de São Paulo, said in a statement. “Since the 1980s her sculptures, paintings, and installations have questioned the notion of the original and the value of artworks.”

Born in São Paulo in 1961, Leirner is known for her assemblages of found, collected, and even stolen objects that range from airline tickets and Marlboro cigarette packages to devalued bank notes and plastic bags. By deconstructing and combining these materials, she challenges their functions and transforms them from symbols of consumerism into conceptual art objects. Her work has been exhibited at the Institute of Contemporary Art, Boston; the Museum of Modern Art, Oxford; the Pinacoteca do Estado de São Paulo; and the Museo Tamayo Arte Contemporáneo, Mexico City; as well as at the São Paulo Biennial (1989 and 1994); Documenta IX (1992); the Venice Biennale (2000); and the Havana Biennial (2005 and 2015).

The prize was established in honor of the memory of collector and painting conservator Wolfgang Hahn (1924–1987), who was drawn to the art of the European and American avant-garde in Cologne. Previous winners of the award include Haegue Yang, Trisha Donnelly, Kerry James Marshall, Christopher Wool, and Rosemarie Trockel.