The Best of the Best

Nasher Sculpture Center aims for worldwide distinction with prestigious new prize

Nasher Sculpture Center aims for worldwide distinction with new prize

Nasher Sculpture Center
Nasher Sculpture Center will continue its emphasis on honoring sculptors with the inaugural Nasher Prize. Photo by Tim Hursley
Okwui Enwezor
Okwui Enwezor, director of Haus der Kunst in Germany, is one of the jurors of the inaugural Nasher Prize. Photo courtesy of Nasher Sculpture Center
Phyllida Barlow
Artist Phyllida Barlow, whose exhibition at the Nasher opens on May 30, will also be part of the jury. Photo courtesy of Nasher Sculpture Center
Nasher Sculpture Center
Okwui Enwezor
Phyllida Barlow

If the Nasher Sculpture Center has its way, the city of Dallas will soon have the same cachet as Stockholm, London and Chicago: The museum has announced plans to award an annual Nasher Prize, to be given to a living sculptor whose work has had an extraordinary impact on the art form.

The Nasher Prize will be determined by an international committee of museum directors, curators, art historians and artists at the highest level of their fields. The jury will gather at the Tate Museum in London in July; the prize announcement will come in the fall. The first prize, with a $100,000 award attached, officially will be given away on April 2, 2016.

The initial jury will include Steven Nash, the founding director of Nasher Sculpture Center; Phyllida Barlow, a British artist who has an upcoming exhibition at the Nasher; Okwui Enwezor, director of Haus der Kunst in Munich, Germany; Lynne Cooke, senior curator at the National Gallery of Art in Washington, D.C.; Yuko Hasegawa, chief curator at the Museum of Contemporary Art in Tokyo, Japan; Alexander Potts, an American art historian; and Nicholas Serota, director of the Tate in London.

As one of the few art institutions dedicated exclusively to the exhibition and study of modern and contemporary sculpture, the Nasher is hoping this prize will put it — and Dallas — on the map when it comes to prestigious awards. In fact, Dallas Mayor Mike Rawlings intentionally brought up things like the Nobel Prize, the Turner Prize and the Pritzker Prize when he spoke at the announcement.

"Those prizes contribute to our understanding of [Stockholm, London and Chicago] as global cultural centers," Rawlings said. "The world looks to, and thousands convene in, these places every year to bestow these awards on the best and brightest minds that the world has to offer in their various fields."

Nasher director Jeremy Strick hopes the prize will be influential for the field of sculpture itself.

"An international prize recognizing outstanding contributions to the field can bring focus and depth to the conversation, highlighting the achievements of the most important artists of our time, and adding to the understanding of the significance of their work," Strick said in a release.

The museum also is developing a series of public programs and educational opportunities tied to the Nasher Prize, including public lectures, symposia and family programs designed to further extend the broader appreciation of sculpture.