Theaster Gates. Photo: The Nasher Sculpture Center

Theaster Gates Wins 2018 Nasher Prize

The Nasher Sculpture Center in Dallas announced today that American artist Theaster Gates has been awarded its 2018 Nasher Prize. In its third year, the prize recognizes living artists who elevate the understanding of sculpture and its possibilities. Gates will receive $100,000 and will be presented with an award designed by Renzo Piano, the architect of the Nasher Sculpture Center, at a ceremony in Dallas on April 7, 2018.

“Sculpture is a way to move between materials—to fight with materials,” Gates said. “This movement between materials and modes of making is what I want to spend my time doing. My work’s aim is to pay attention to a thing that has not had attention paid to it in a long time.” In Artforum’s October 2013 issue, Huey Copeland wrote that Gates “can be said to work with and against a particular admixture of aesthetics, theories, contexts, and attitudes: white guilt, the archival turn, DIY aesthetics, the uplift impulse, parafiction, actor-network theory, and, perhaps unavoidably, privatization and the concomitant proliferation of nonprofits and NGOs.”

The prize’s jury comprised Phyllida Barlow, artist; Huma Bhabha, artist; Pablo León de la Barra, Guggenheim curator at large, Latin America; Lynne Cooke, senior curator, National Gallery of Art; Okwui Enwezor, director, Haus der Kunst; Yuko Hasegawa, chief curator of the Museum of Contemporary Art, Tokyo; Hou Hanru, artistic director, MAXXI, Rome; Alexander Potts, art historian; and Sir Nicholas Serota, chair of the Arts Council England.

“It was important to this year’s jury to select a winner that reflects the agenda of today’s artistic production in terms of its originality, in terms of its relevance, and in terms of its interaction with how the society needs an aesthetic dimension in the social life,” said juror Hou Hanru. “Theaster Gates demonstrates how an artist can take on an incredibly strong social responsibility and translate it into, on the one hand, a social action, and on the other hand, a really extraordinary artistic project that is consisting of architecture, intervention, social organization, and also the production of beautiful objects.”

In conjunction with the Nasher Prize, the Nasher Sculpture Center annually presents a series of public programs exploring the climate of contemporary sculpture. This year, the Nasher Prize Dialogues will occur in Chicago, Paris, Glasgow, and Dallas.