Frank Bowling
2022 Wolfgang Hahn Prize

November 16, 2022 – March 19, 2023

Frank Bowl­ing (b.1934, Bar­ti­ca, Guya­na) will be award­ed the 2022 Wolf­gang Hahn Prize by the Ge­sellschaft für Mod­erne Kunst am Mu­se­um Lud­wig. The award cer­e­mony al­ways al­so in­cludes an ac­qui­si­tion for the col­lec­tion of the Mu­se­um Lud­wig. Thanks to the artist’s generos­i­ty, the 2022 Wolf­gang Hahn Prize will mark the first ac­qui­si­tion of one of his works for a public col­lec­tion in Ger­many. Frank Bowl­ing's paint­ing Flog­ging the Dead Don­key (2020) be­comes part of the Mu­se­um Lud­wig col­lec­tion.

The work’s ti­tle is an iron­ic state­ment by the artist about his pre­oc­cu­pa­tion with ab­s­tract paint­ing. Bowl­ing’s in­ter­est in ab­s­trac­tion be­gan in 1966, dur­ing his ear­ly years in New York when he en­coun­tered the works of Ad Rein­hardt, Bar­nett New­man, Clyf­ford Still, Mar­cia Ha­fif, and Mark Rothko, all of whom ex­per­i­ment­ed with monochrome paint­ing and its variants. The over­all com­po­si­tion of Bowl­ing’s paint­ing is an ho­mage to this ear­li­er gen­er­a­tions of col­orists, and il­lus­trates his on­go­ing en­gage­ment with monochrome paint­ing. From the com­plex­i­ty of the sur­face tex­tures and the ex­traor­d­i­nary in­ten­si­ty of the red tones, as well as the sub­tle flash­es of other col­ors and rem­nants of gold pig­ments, this late work gives life to his max­im that “the pos­si­bil­i­ties of col­or are infi­nite.”

Flog­ging the Dead Don­key will be shown in a pre­sen­ta­tion at Mu­se­um Lud­wig from Novem­ber 16, 2022 to Fe­bruary 12, 2023. Al­so on dis­play will be a print de­rived from the drip edge of the paint­ing, along with archi­val ma­te­rials and writ­ings that high­light Bowl­ing's di­verse en­gage­ment with art as an artist and writ­er. Ad­di­tio­n­al­ly, a film by his son Sacha Bowl­ing will com­bine pho­to­graph­ic and film foo­tage from through­out his artis­tic ca­reer with an in­ter­view be­tween Bowl­ing and writ­er and crit­ic Mel Good­ing.

“Frank Bowl­ing is be­ing rec­og­nized for his work in the lat­ter part of a long ca­reer and at the be­gin­n­ing of his sta­tus as a clas­sic in art his­to­ry. He cre­ates unique ab­s­tract paint­ings that sub­ver­sive­ly re­sist clear in­ter­pre­ta­tions in their the­mat­ic and ma­te­rial com­plex­i­ty. With the ac­qui­si­tion for the Wolf­gang Hahn Prize, the Mu­se­um Lud­wig will be the first public col­lec­tion in Ger­many to ob­tain one of Bowl­ing’s paint­ings, thus open­ing up the pos­si­bil­i­ty of a deep­er re­cep­tion of his oeu­vre. We are very grate­ful to Frank Bowl­ing for his generos­i­ty,” says Mayen Beck­mann, chair­wo­m­an of the Ge­sellschaft für Mod­erne Kunst.

Yil­maz Dziewior, di­rec­tor of the Mu­se­um Lud­wig: “S­ince 2017, when I saw Frank Bowl­ing’s ex­hi­bi­tion Map­pa Mun­di at Haus der Kunst, I hoped to ac­quire one of his works for the col­lec­tion of the Mu­se­um Lud­wig. Af­ter all, a work like Flog­ging the Dead Don­key (2020), in which the spir­it of Amer­i­can col­or field paint­ing and Bri­tish ab­s­trac­tion com­bine to form an in­com­para­ble, very in­de­pen­dent po­si­tion, rep­re­sent­ed a gap in our im­por­tant and mul­ti­facet­ed col­lec­tion of ab­s­tract ten­den­cies. I’m de­light­ed that we can now help bring Frank Bowl­ing’s work the at­ten­tion it de­serves in Ger­many.”

About Frank Bowl­ing

Frank Bowl­ing (b.1934, Bar­ti­ca, Guya­na) lives and works in Lon­don. He gra­d­u­at­ed from the Roy­al Col­lege of Art in 1962. As an artist and con­tribut­ing ed­i­tor for Arts Mag­azine in New York from 1969 to 1972, he made an ear­ly and sig­ni­f­i­cant con­tri­bu­tion to de­bates on Afri­can-Amer­i­can art. Bowl­ing was ap­point­ed Roy­al Aca­demi­cian in the Unit­ed King­dom in 2005, and was award­ed both the Or­der of the Bri­tish Em­pire in 2008 and a knight­hood in 2020 for his ser­vices to the arts. Bowl­ing’s work is rep­re­sent­ed in over fif­ty col­lec­tions around the world, in­clud­ing the Me­nil Col­lec­tion in Hous­ton, the Metropol­i­tan Mu­se­um of Art in New York, and Tate Bri­tain in Lon­don. His art has been fea­tured in many ex­hi­bi­tions, in­clud­ing so­lo ex­hi­bi­tions at the Whit­ney Mu­se­um of Amer­i­can Art in New York in 1971 and the Ser­pen­tine Gallery in 1986 as well as in the ex­ten­sive so­lo ex­hi­bi­tion Map­pa Mun­di (2017–2019) at Haus der Kunst in Mu­nich, the Ir­ish Mu­se­um of Mod­ern Art in Dublin, and the Shar­jah Art Foun­da­tion. Tate Bri­tain in Lon­don host­ed a com­pre­hen­sive ret­ro­spec­tive of his work in 2019. 

About the Wolf­gang-Hahn-Prize

The Wolf­gang Hahn Prize is award­ed an­nu­al­ly by the Ge­sellschaft für Mod­erne Kunst am Mu­se­um Lud­wig, and is be­ing pre­sent­ed in 2022 for the twen­ty-eighth time. The award 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 pre­sen­ta­tion or­ganized by the Mu­se­um Lud­wig with an ac­quired work 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 the art of the Eu­ro­pean and Amer­i­can avant-garde 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 the head of the res­to­ra­tion work­shops at the Wall­raf Richartz Mu­se­um and the Mu­se­um Lud­wig.


The pre­vi­ous re­cipi­ents can be found here