Sculptor Simone Leigh Becomes 12th Artist to Win Guggenheim’s Hugo Boss Prize

Artist Simone Leigh attends the Hugo Boss Prize 2018 Artists Dinner at the Guggenheim Museum on October 18, 2018 in New York City.
Photo: Andrew Toth (Getty Images for Hugo Boss Prize 2018)

Black excellence has been awarded again. On Thursday, the Guggenheim Museum awarded its coveted Hugo Boss Prize to Brooklyn, N.Y.-based artist Simone Leigh.

The Hugo Boss Prize recognizes achievement in contemporary art. Leigh, a Chicago native of Jamaican descent, works in various media but was recognized for her work in ceramics, which incorporates traditional African motifs. The 2016 Art Show in the Park Avenue Armory brought her African-inspired busts of black women to international attention and acclaim, and in September, Leigh mounted her first solo show in New York City at the at Luhring Augustine gallery.


As reported by The New York Times, the Guggenheim jury statement read:

Leigh has consistently expanded the possibilities of ceramics, which is her principal medium and one that has long been undervalued within the mainstream art world. We are particularly compelled by Leigh’s longstanding and unwavering commitment to addressing black women as both the subject of and audience for her work.

Leigh, 50, teaches at the prestigious Rhode Island School of Design (RISD), and the 12th artist to receive the Hugo Boss prize, sponsored by the fashion label of the same name. In addition to being granted a solo exhibition at the famed Guggenheim Museum in April 2019, Leigh will receive a $100,000 award. Also in April, Leigh will debut a large-scale outdoor installation on the High Line in New York City, the first artist to win the commission.

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Maiysha Kai

Maiysha Kai is Managing Editor of The Glow Up and your average Grammy-nominated goddess next door. Minneapolis born, Chicago bred, New York built. Nuance is her superpower.