Trisha Donnelly: 2017 Wolfgang Hahn Prize

April 25 – Juli 30, 2017

Award cer­e­mony and open­ing: Mon­day, April 24, 2017, 6:30 p.m.

The Ge­sellschaft für Mod­erne Kunst am Mu­se­um Lud­wig will pre­sent the 2017 Wolf­gang Hahn Prize to Tr­isha Don­nel­ly. With this prize, which has been award­ed an­nu­al­ly over the past twen­ty-three years, the or­gani­za­tion will rec­og­nize the ex­traor­d­i­nary oeu­vre of this artist, who was born in 1974 in San Fran­cis­co and now lives in New York.

The prize in­cludes the ac­qui­si­tion of a work or a group of works by the artist for the col­lec­tion of the Mu­se­um Lud­wig. An ex­hi­bi­tion of Tr­isha Don­nel­ly’s work will al­so take place at the mu­se­um, and a ca­t­a­logue will be pub­lished to com­me­m­o­rate the award. The ju­ry for the 2017 Wolf­gang Hahn Prize in­clud­ed this year’s guest ju­ror Suzanne Cot­ter, di­rec­tor of the Ser­ralves Mu­se­um of con­tem­po­rary art in Por­to; Yil­maz Dziewior, di­rec­tor of the Mu­se­um Lud­wig; Mayen Beck­mann, chair­wo­m­an of the Ge­sellschaft für Mod­erne Kunst; as well as Gabriele Bier­baum, Sabine Du­Mont Schütte, Jörg En­gels, and Robert Müller-Grünow as board mem­bers of the Ge­sellschaft für Mod­erne Kunst.

Mayen Beck­mann, chair­wo­m­an of the Ge­sellschaft für Mod­erne Kunst, of­fered the fol­low­ing state­ment on the se­lec­tion of the artist: “The ju­ry was en­thu­si­as­tic about Tr­isha Don­nel­ly’s di­verse work, which re­sists in­ter­pre­ta­tion. With sculp­tures, draw­ings, per­for­mances, films, and pho­to­graphs, she cre­ates works that lead us as view­ers in­to en­tire­ly dif­fer­ent spheres of per­cep­tion. Her con­sis­ten­cy and rad­i­cal ap­proach to ques­tions of aes­thet­ics or re­cep­tion were an im­por­tant rea­son for hon­or­ing Tr­isha Don­nel­ly with the Wolf­gang Hahn Prize. This is very much in keep­ing with the spir­it of Wolf­gang Hahn, who saw the con­nec­tion be­tween life and art in the avant-garde.”

Suzanne Cot­ter, di­rec­tor of the Ser­ralves Mu­se­um of con­tem­po­rary art in Por­to: “The Wolf­gang-Hahn Prize is one of the most in­spir­ing awards for con­tem­po­rary artists of its kind, and it is with enor­mous plea­sure that the prize this year goes to Tr­isha Don­nel­ly. Tr­isha Don­nel­ly is with­out doubt one of the most com­pelling artists of our time whose work of­fers en­tire­ly new ways of ex­pe­ri­enc­ing and think­ing about form, at once sy­naes­th­esic and dis­rup­tive­ly tran­s­port­ing. As an artist she oc­cu­pies a po­si­tion of com­mitt­ed re­sis­tance to the easy ap­pro­pri­a­tion of art as some­thing con­tained and ul­ti­mate­ly con­trol­lable. At the same time, the ex­traor­d­i­nary generos­i­ty of her work, that touch­es on the vi­su­al – in par­tic­u­lar the pho­to­graph­ic – , the spo­ken, the au­ral and the phys­i­cal, is elec­tri­fy­ing in its per­mis­sion.”

Yil­maz Dziewior, di­rec­tor of the Mu­se­um Lud­wig: “For us as an in­sti­tu­tion whose mis­sion is to col­lect con­tem­po­rary art, the pre­sen­ta­tion of the prize to Tr­isha Don­nel­ly is ex­cel­lent news. I have fol­lowed Tr­isha’s work close­ly for years; she brings the problem that artists have long worked on—­name­ly, what the very con­cept of an art­work mean­s—in­to the fu­ture. Her in­de­pen­dence and re­sis­tance to all forms of ap­pro­pri­a­tion are es­sen­tial el­e­ments of her work, as is her abil­i­ty to ad­just to the spe­cif­ic ex­hi­bi­tion venue and con­text, on­ly to over­turn ev­ery­thing, to dis­pense with any con­text of mean­ing, and to di­rect­ly ap­peal to the view­er. The Wolf­gang Hahn Prize thus once again sets new stan­dards by rec­og­niz­ing an ex­traor­d­i­nary and pi­oneer­ing artist.”

BAUWENS and Eb­n­er Stolz, two lo­cal com­pa­nies in Cologne, will cont­in­ue their long-term sup­port of the award cer­e­mony in 2017 as well as the ex­hi­bi­tion at the Mu­se­um Lud­wig and the publi­ca­tion. In 2016 both com­pa­nies agreed to gener­ous­ly sup­port the Wolf­gang Hahn Prize for at least three years.

About Tr­isha Don­nel­ly

Tr­isha Don­nel­ly was born in 1974 in San Fran­cis­co. In 1995 she com­plet­ed her bach­e­lor of fine arts at the Uni­ver­si­ty of Cal­i­for­nia, and in 2000 she earned her mas­ter of fine arts at the Yale Uni­ver­si­ty School of Art. Since 1999 she has tak­en part in ex­hi­bi­tions, in­clud­ing so­lo shows at the Vil­la Ser­ralves in Por­to (2016), the Ser­pen­tine Gallery in Lon­don (2014), the San Fran­cis­co Mu­se­um of Mod­ern Art (2013), the Por­tikus Frank­furt (2010), the Museo d’Arte Mod­er­na di Bolog­na (2009), the Re­nais­sance So­ci­e­ty of the Uni­ver­si­ty of Chica­go (2008), the In­sti­tute of Con­tem­po­rary Art in Philadel­phia (2008), Mod­ern Art Ox­ford (2007), and the Kun­sthalle Zürich (2005). Over the past ten years she has par­ti­ci­pat­ed in nu­mer­ous group ex­hi­bi­tions, in­clud­ing the fif­ty-fourth and fif­ty-fifth Venice Bien­nale (2011 and 2013), Doc­u­men­ta 13 (2012), The Quick and the Dead at the Walk­er Art Cen­ter (2009), and Il Tem­po del Posti­no (2007 in Manch­ester, 2009 in Basel). Don­nel­ly had her first so­lo ex­hi­bi­tion at a mu­se­um in Ger­many in 2005 at the Köl­nisch­er Kun­stverein as part of the Cen­tral-Kun­st­preis, which she re­ceived in 2004. In 2015 the Ju­lia Stoschek Col­lec­tion showed Tr­isha Don­nel­ly’s works in its ex­hi­bi­tion Num­ber Ten. The artist was al­so fea­tured in ear­ly ex­hi­bi­tions at Ga­lerie Air de Paris in Paris, Ga­lerie Eva Pre­sen­hu­ber in Zurich, and Casey Ka­plan in New York, among others. In New York she gained at­ten­tion in 2002 with a per­for­mance in which, dressed as one of Napoleon’s couri­ers, she rode up to Casey Ka­plan’s gallery on a horse and read a mys­te­ri­ous mes­sage. This per­for­mance was echoed in 2005 at the Köl­nisch­er Kun­stverein, where a black horse was sup­pos­ed­ly led through the ex­hi­bi­tion hal­l—an event whose fac­tu­al­i­ty the artist pre­fers to leave open.

This play­ful ap­proach to the un­known and the cre­a­tion of si­t­u­a­tions in which the view­er must re­ly com­plete­ly on his or her own per­cep­tion with­out a frame of ref­er­ence is per­haps one of the most im­por­tant qual­i­ties of Tr­isha Don­nel­ly’s work. Thus, her part­ly im­ma­te­rial works can ul­ti­mate­ly on­ly be un­der­s­tood when they are ex­pe­ri­enced in per­son. Don­nel­ly’s avoi­dance of public ap­pear­ances, ex­pla­na­to­ry texts, and name-giv­ing ti­tles points to a strat­e­gy that re­sists event- and spec­ta­cle-ori­ent­ed ap­proach­es. Rather, it is the in­ex­pli­ca­ble, things learned or ex­pe­ri­enced through hear­say which Don­nel­ly seeks to make per­cepti­ble in her works. Don­nel­ly once stat­ed in an in­ter­view with Cathrin Lorch (Kun­st­bul­letin, Septem­ber 2005) that she tries to con­dense things. She went on to ex­plain that ev­ery work is cre­at­ed as an ex­per­i­ment and that she search­es for pat­terns that un­der­lie a “men­tal sculp­ture.” In ad­di­tion to the afore­men­tioned Cen­tral-Kun­st­preis, in 2010 Don­nel­ly re­ceived a Rob Pruitt’s Art Award and the Prix de la Fon­da­tion Lu­ma in Ar­les, fol­lowed in 2011 by the tenth prize of the Shar­jah Bien­nale and in 2012 by the Faber-Castell In­ter­na­tio­n­al Draw­ing Award. In 2011 she was among the fi­nal­ists for the Hu­go Boss Prize from the Solo­mon R. Gug­gen­heim Foun­da­tion. 

About the Wolf­gang Hahn Prize

Wolf­gang Hahn (1924–1987) was a found­ing mem­ber and a board mem­ber of the Ge­sellschaft für Mod­erne Kunst am Mu­se­um Lud­wig. A pas­sio­nate col­lec­tor who worked as head re­s­tor­er with a spe­cial­ty in in paint­ing res­to­ra­tion at the Wall­raf Richartz Mu­se­um and Mu­se­um Lud­wig, he be­came in­ter­est­ed in con­tem­po­rary art and be­gan build­ing a col­lec­tion in the 1950s. He ex­pand­ed the col­lec­tion in the 1960s with ob­jects by artists from the Fluxus and hap­pen­ing move­ments as well as Nou­veau Réal­isme in Eu­rope. Siegfried Gohr, found­ing di­rec­tor of the Mu­se­um Lud­wig, of­fered the fol­low­ing state­ment on Wolf­gang Hahn in 1997: “Hahn did not ask the prob­ing ques­tion of the six­ties re­gard­ing the re­la­tion­ship be­tween art and life from the out­side; rather, it de­vel­oped on its own out of his at­ti­tude to­ward art. Hahn lived with art and artists with­out dis­tanc­ing him­self from the bour­geois re­al­i­ty in which he was firm­ly root­ed. He did not de­mean art as an ob­ject, but treat­ed it as part of his life with a per­sis­tent en­er­gy. His en­gage­ment with art was the op­po­site of aes­theti­cism; to him, who sur­round­ed him­self with it, it lit­er­al­ly served as a ve­hi­cle for ex­pe­ri­enc­ing the world.” The Ge­sellschaft für Mod­erne Kunst com­mitt­ed it­self to this at­ti­tude when it named its prize for con­tem­po­rary art af­ter Wolf­gang Hahn in 1994. To­day the prize has a max­i­mum bud­get of 100,000 eu­ros and is meant to hon­or main­ly artists who have made a name for them­selves in the art world with an in­ter­na­tio­n­al­ly rec­og­nized oeu­vre but have not yet gained the at­ten­tion they de­serve, par­tic­u­lar­ly in Ger­many. The prize in­cludes an ex­hi­bi­tion or­ganized by the Mu­se­um Lud­wig with works by the re­cipi­ent, and in par­tic­u­lar a work or group of works ac­quired for the mu­se­um, as well as an ac­com­pany­ing publi­ca­tion.  

In 2017 the Mu­se­um Lud­wig will de­vote a ma­jor ex­hi­bi­tion to Wolf­gang Hahn’s pi­oneer­ing col­lec­tion: Bring Art in­to Life! The Col­lec­tor Wolf­gang Hahn and the 60s (June 24 – Septem­ber 24, 2017).

About BAUWENS and Eb­n­er Stolz

Spon­sors of the Award Cer­e­mony, the Ex­hi­bi­tion, and the Publi­ca­tion

The long-estab­lished cor­po­rate group BAUWENS de­vel­ops, plans, and builds resi­den­tial and com­mer­cial re­al es­tate pro­jects through­out Ger­many. Eb­n­er Stolz is one of the largest in­de­pen­dent, mid-sized au­dit­ing and con­sult­ing firms in Ger­many. In ad­vis­ing its clients, it distin­guish­es it­self with its mul­tidis­ci­pli­nary ap­proach, which com­bines au­dit­ing, tax ad­vi­so­ry, cor­po­rate con­sult­ing, and le­gal ad­vi­so­ry ser­vices. The BAUWENS group is lo­cat­ed in the Rhei­nauhafen area of Cologne in the same build­ing as Eb­n­er Stolz. For fur­ther in­for­ma­tion, see the web­sites www.bauwens.de and www.eb­n­er­s­tolz.de.