In 2019, the Gesellschaft für Moderne Kunst am Museum Ludwig will recognize Jac Leirner with the Wolfgang Hahn Prize. The Brazilian artist, born in São Paulo in 1961, has been pursuing a subtle analysis of social and representational systems for many years. Found, often industrially manufactured everyday objects from which she creates installations, collages, and sculptures according to the principles of collecting, accumulating, and classifying play an important role in her work. This results in dense, often minimalist works that play with the aesthetic, representational, and socio-cultural levels of meaning of the objects.
The year 2019 is a special milestone for the Wolfgang Hahn Prize. For the first time, the Gesellschaft für Moderne Kunst is honoring a South American artist for her internationally relevant oeuvre. This will broaden the perspective of the award toward developments in global contemporary art. Leirner’s work, located at the intersection of minimalism, conceptualism, and Institutional Critique, is an important addition to the collection of the Museum Ludwig. Thanks to the dedication of its members, the Gesellschaft für Moderne Kunst is presenting the Wolfgang Hahn Prize for the twenty-fifth year in a row.
Jac Leirner’s work Museum Bags (1985/2018) will be acquired by the Gesellschaft für Moderne Kunst for the collection of the Museum Ludwig on the occasion of the award ceremony and presented in the context of the permanent collection. The award also includes a publication in collaboration with the artist, edited by the Gesellschaft für Moderne Kunst.
Jac Leirner was born in 1961 in São Paulo, where she continues to live and work today. In 1982 her first exhibition took place there. This was followed in 1991 by institutional solo exhibitions at the Institute of Contemporary Art in Boston, the Museum of Modern Art in Oxford, and the Walker Art Center in Minneapolis. Since then, Leirner has continually exhibited at a variety of renowned institutions around the world. For instance, she had a major retrospective at the State Art Gallery of São Paulo (2011) and also exhibited at the Museo Tamayo Arte Contemporáneo in Mexico City (2014), the Museum of Contemporary Arts of Shanghai (2016), and the Irish Museum of Modern Art in Dublin (2017). Leirner has participated in numerous biennials, including the São Paulo Biennial in 1989 and 1994, the Venice Biennale in 1990 and 1997, the Havana Biennial in 2000, and the Bienal do Mercosul in Porto Alegre, Brazil, in 2005 and 2015. In Germany Leirner’s works were shown at Documenta IX in 1992 and in the same year at the Josef-Haubrich-Kunsthalle in Cologne.
This year marks the twenty-fifth presentation of the Wolfgang Hahn Prize by the Gesellschaft für Moderne Kunst. The prize is primarily intended to recognize contemporary artists who have already made a name for themselves in the art world through their internationally recognized oeuvre, but who are not as well known in Germany as they deserve to be. The prize money of a maximum of 100,000 euros comes from contributions by the members and is used to acquire a work or series of works by the artist for the collection of the Museum Ludwig. The prize includes an exhibition organized by the Museum Ludwig with works by the prize winner as well as an accompanying publication. The name of the award honors the memory of the passionate Cologne collector and painting restorer Wolfgang Hahn (1924–1987), who was involved in various ways with European and American avant-garde art in Cologne. The Gesellschaft für Moderne Kunst is indebted to his exemplary work as a collector, a founding member of the Gesellschaft für Moderne Kunst, and head of the restoration workshops at the Wallraf Richartz Museum and the Museum Ludwig.