New Museum to Launch $400,000 Art Prize for Sculpture Commission by Women Artists

The New Museum in New York will start a biennial art prize for sculpture by women artists, with a first winner to be named at the end of 2022. Titled the Hostetler/Wrigley Sculpture Award after its benefactor, the Hostetler/Wrigley Foundation, the prize will recognize five artists over the next ten years. Each winning project will be allotted $400,000 for its production and installation.

The awardees will get to design a sculpture for the New Museum’s forthcoming plaza on the Bowery, set to be unveiled as part of a 60,000-square-foot addition being overseen by architect Rem Koolhaas. (That expansion was formerly expected to open in 2022, but its inauguration date was delayed by the pandemic, a New Museum spokesperson said.) Artists will be put up for the award by a nomination process, and a jury will decide the final winner.

Throughout the decade it is awarded, the Hostetler/Wrigley Sculpture Award will be one of the biggest art awards of its kind in New York. Its purse is four times bigger, for example, than that of the Guggenheim Museum’s biennial Hugo Boss Prize, which is among the most esteemed art awards in the world.

Unlike most art awards that foster newly commissioned works, however, this one will not see the resulting sculptures enter the New Museum’s holdings, since the institution does not maintain a permanent collection. And whereas most art awards allow their winners to receive most or all of the money, the Hostetler/Wrigley Sculpture Award is focused primarily on the work the winner produces, with some of the funds going to the New Museum itself. The money for the award, which is being put up by the foundation of New Museum trustee Sue Hostetler Wrigley, is intended to support the production of the artwork, as well as the museum’s administrative and installation costs for each project.

According to Hostetler Wrigley, the award is intended to rectify gender disparities at the museum. “Supporting and celebrating the significant achievements of women artists, who have a history of being overlooked, and making art as public as possible, are two of our foundation’s central missions,” she said in a statement. “Our intent is that the award will also help continue the critical conversation about parity for women.”

The New Museum’s announcement of its award comes as the institution continues to face criticism over the treatment of its workers. A New York Times investigation in 2020 chronicled allegations of unsafe working conditions and unethical leadership, and in a Baffler essay published earlier this month, Dana Kopel, a former New Museum employee who served as an organizer for the institution’s union, wrote of a place where a commitment to social justice masked “rampant exploitation” behind the scenes. In 2020, the New Museum told the Times that such allegations were “falsehoods and hearsay from disgruntled former staffers.”

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