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Pinacoteca de São Paulo. Photo: Levi Fanan. Courtesy of Sotheby’s.
Pinacoteca de São Paulo. Photo: Levi Fanan. Courtesy of Sotheby’s.

Two Indigenous Art Exhibitions to Split $250,000 Sotheby’s Prize

This year’s Sotheby’s Prize, which honors curatorial excellence and celebrates institutions that are working to present shows on under-recognized areas of art history, has been awarded to two exhibitions of indigenous art that are set to open in Brazil in 2020 and 2021. The curatorial projects will share a monetary prize of $250,000. “In recognizing these projects, we hope to embrace a city and a country grappling with its biggest and most timely issues—issues that are equally relevant to the rest of the world,” Allan Schwartzman, cocreator of the prize and chairman and executive vice president of Sotheby’s, said.

The first exhibition, which has the working title “OYP,” will be staged at three different institutions in São Paulo: the Pinacoteca Museum, the Casa do Povo Cultural Center, and Kalipety, a house of prayer. Curated by Naine Terena, an independent curator; Benjamin Seroussi, the director of Casa do Povo; Jera Guarani, the leader of Kalipety; and Jochen Volz, the general director of Pinacoteca de São Paulo, “OYP” will attempt to highlight the absence of indigenous art in museum collections and to address questions of preservation following the devastating fire that razed Brazil’s National Museum on September 2, 2018.

The second show, which will take place at the Museu de Arte de São Paulo (MASP), will bring together artworks and cultural objects of different indigenous histories from across the world. Dating from the sixteenth century to the twenty-first century, the works in this exhibition will come from Australia, Canada, Mexico, New Zealand, Peru, and Sami (Norway), in addition to Brazil, and will also encompass fictional, mythical, and personal accounts of history. Among those serving on the ten-person curatorial team are Adriano Pedrosa, the artistic director of MASP; Greg Hill, the senior curator and head of the Department of Indigenous Art at the National Gallery of Canada; Nigel Borell, the curator of Māori Art at the Auckland Art Gallery; and the Mexican artist and curator Abraham Cruzvillegas.

A number of exhibitions—including the Contemporary Arts Museum Houston’s “The Art of Cruelty,” which is scheduled for December 2021, and “African Modernism in America, 1947–1967,” which will be presented by the Fisk University Galleries in Nashville in October 2022—were also selected as honorable mentions. Described as “inspiring and transformative” shows by the selection panel, these exhibitions will each receive a sum of $10,000.