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Senga Nengudi’s Performance Piece, 1978, activated by Maren Hassinger. Photo: Harmon Outlaw.
Senga Nengudi’s Performance Piece, 1978, activated by Maren Hassinger. Photo: Harmon Outlaw.

Senga Nengudi Wins $100,000 Nasher Prize for Sculpture

Senga Nengudi has been named the recipient of the 2023 Nasher Prize, the $100,000 award given by the Nasher Sculpture Center in Dallas which honors “a living artist who elevates the understanding of sculpture and its possibilities.” The Los Angeles–based artist will recieve the award at a gala at the Nasher Sculpture Center in April. Previous winners of the Nasher Prize, which began in 2016, include Nairy Baghramian, Theaster Gates, Isa Genzken, Pierre Huyghe, Michael Rakowitz, and Doris Salcedo.

Nengudi—whose five-decade career encompasses sculpture, performance, dance, photography, and film—is best known for her use of stretched-pantyhose-and-sand sculptures that, blurring abstraction and figuration, evoke the fragility and plasticity of the human body. “An artist’s supposed greatest desire is the making of objects that will last lifetimes for posterity after all,” Nengudi said. “This has never been a priority for me. My purpose is to create an experience that will vibrate with the connecting thread.”

“An artist’s supposed greatest desire is the making of objects that will last lifetimes for posterity after all,” Nengudi said. “This has never been a priority for me. My purpose is to create an experience that will vibrate with the connecting thread.”

Nengudi’s work will go on display at New York’s Museum of Modern Art next month as part of “Just Above Midtown,” an exhibition devoted to Linda Goode Bryant’s titular Fifty-Seventh Street gallery, which championed Black artists and artists of color during its pioneering run from 1974 to 1986, and where Nengudi debuted her breakthrough “R.S.V.P.” sculpture series in 1977. Like many artists who showed at the gallery, such as Lorraine O’Grady and Howardena Pindell, Nengudi has enjoyed greater institutional recognition in recent years. Her work was recently acquired by the Dia Art Foundation, which today announced a long-term survey of Nengudi’s practice opening in February at its sprawing compound in Beacon, New York.

The jury for the 2023 prize consisted of Nairy Baghramian; Carolyn Christov-Bakargiev, director of the Castello di Rivoli; Lynne Cooke, a senior curator at the National Gallery of Art in Washington, D.C.; art historian Briony Fer; Hou Hanru, the artistic director of MAXXI in Rome; Yuko Hasegawa, chief curator of the Museum of Contemporary Art Tokyo; Pablo León de la Barra, a curator at large at the Guggenheim Museum; and Nicholas Serota, chair of the Arts Council England.

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