2020 Spring Benefit and Isamu Noguchi Award

May 19, 2020 

On May 19, 2020, The Noguchi Museum will hold its annual Spring Benefit and presentation of the 2020 Isamu Noguchi Award honoring architect Sir David Adjaye and artist Cai Guo-Qiang.

For information on tickets and tables, download the 2020 Spring Benefit Committee Form or contact Melissa Gatz at springbenefit@noguchi.org or 718.204.7088 ext 229. Commitments received by March 13 will be listed on the printed invitation.

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2020 Honorees

David Adjaye
Photo: Chris Schwagga

David Adjaye

Sir David Adjaye OBE is a Ghanaian-British architect who has received international acclaim for his impact on the field. Born in Tanzania to Ghanaian parents, his influences range from contemporary art, music and science to African art forms and the civic life of cities. In 2000, he founded Adjaye Associates, which today operates globally, with studios in Accra, London, and New York and projects spanning across the globe.

Known for his ingenious use of materials and his sculptural ability, David Adjaye has established himself as an architect with an artist’s sensibility and vision. His projects range from private houses, bespoke furniture collections, product design, exhibitions, and temporary pavilions to major arts centers, civic buildings, and master plans. His largest project to date, The National Museum of African American History & Culture in Washington, DC opened on the National Mall in Washington DC in 2016 and was named Cultural Event of the Year by The New York Times. In 2017, Adjaye was knighted by Queen Elizabeth II and was recognized as one of the 100 most influential people of the year by TIME Magazine.

In addition to the National Museum of African American History & Culture, other completed works include: Ruby City, a new art center in San Antonio, Texas; The Webster, a new flagship retail space in Los Angeles; the Sugar Hill Mixed-Use Development, in Harlem, New York; two neighborhood libraries in Washington, D.C.; the Alara Concept store in Lagos, Nigeria; the Museum of Contemporary Art in Denver, Colorado; the Ethelbert Cooper Gallery of African and African American Art at the Hutchins Center at Harvard University; the Nobel Peace Centre in Oslo; the Idea Stores—two community libraries in London.

Ongoing projects include a new home for The Studio Museum in Harlem, New York; 130 William, a high-rise residential tower in New York’s financial district; the new Sydney Plaza, a public plaza, community building and artwork in Sydney’s Central Business District; The Abrahamic Family House, an interfaith complex in Abu Dhabi; the UK Holocaust Memorial and Learning Centre in London; and the the National Cathedral of Ghana in Accra.


 

Cai Guo-Qiang
Photo: Lin Yi / courtesy of Cai Studio

Cai Guo-Qiang

Cai Guo-Qiang was born in 1957 in Quanzhou, China. He was trained in stage design at the Shanghai Theatre Academy from 1981 to 1985, and his work has since crossed multiple mediums within art including drawing, installation, video, and performance. Guo-Qiang began to experiment with gunpowder in his hometown Quanzhou, and continued exploring its properties while living in Japan from 1986 to 1995. This inquiry eventually led to the development of his signature outdoor explosion events. Drawing upon Eastern philosophy and contemporary social issues as a conceptual basis, his artworks respond to culture and history and establish an exchange between viewers and the larger universe around them. His explosion art and installations are imbued with a force that transcends the two-dimensional plane to engage with society and nature.

Cai Guo-Qiang was awarded the Golden Lion at the Venice Biennale in 1999, the Hiroshima Art Prize in 2007, and the Fukuoka Asian Culture Prize in 2009. In 2012, he was honored as a Laureate for the prestigious Praemium Imperiale, which recognizes lifetime achievement in the arts across categories not covered by the Nobel Prize. In the same year, he was named as one of the five artists to receive the first U.S. Department of State Medal of Arts for his outstanding commitment to international cultural exchange. His recent honors include the Barnett and Annalee Newman Foundation Award in 2015 and the Bonnefanten Award for Contemporary Art (BACA), the Japan Foundation Awards, and the Asia Arts Award Honoree in 2016.

His many solo exhibitions and projects over the past three decades include Cai Guo-Qiang on the Roof: Transparent Monument at the Metropolitan Museum of Art, New York in 2006 and his retrospective I Want to Believe, which opened at the Solomon R. Guggenheim Museum, New York in 2008. Cai served as Director of Visual and Special Effects for the Opening and Closing Ceremonies of the 2008 Summer Olympics in Beijing. His solo exhibition Da Vincis do Povo toured across Brazil in 2013, traveling from Brasilia to São Paulo and Rio de Janeiro. It was the most visited exhibition by a living artist worldwide that year, attracting over one million visitors. In June 2015, Cai created the explosion event Sky Ladder in his hometown Quanzhou. The artwork became the centerpiece of the Netflix documentary Sky Ladder: The Art of Cai Guo-Qiang, directed by Academy Award winner Kevin Macdonald. Fireflies, his largest public art project in the United States in the past decade, launched in Philadelphia in September 2017.

Major solo exhibitions in 2017 included October at the Pushkin State Museum of Fine Arts, Moscow and The Spirit of Painting at the Museo del Prado, Madrid. In 2018, his explosion event City of Flowers in the Sky was realized above Piazzale Michelangelo in Florence and marked the opening of his solo exhibition Flora Commedia at the Uffizi Galleries. Latest solo exhibitions in 2019 include In the Volcano at the National Archaeological Museum of Naples, The Transient Landscape at the National Gallery of Victoria, Melbourne, and Cuyahoga River Lightning at the Cleveland Museum of Art. His latest explosion event, Encounter with the Unknown: Cosmos Project for Mexico, was realized on November 8.

He currently lives and works in New York.

The Spring Benefit

Each May The Noguchi Museum hosts its annual benefit and Isamu Noguchi Award presentation. The evening begins with cocktails and the award ceremony in the Museum’s celebrated sculpture garden, followed by a seated dinner and a silent auction in the galleries. Proceeds from the evening support the Museum, its collection, exhibitions, and programs.

The Isamu Noguchi Award

Launched at The Noguchi Museum’s 2014 Spring Benefit, the Isamu Noguchi Award was established to honor the tenets that Noguchi expressed in his life’s work and to acknowledge other like-minded, highly accomplished individuals who reflect similar ideals in their own times. The Award thus celebrates innovation, global awareness, and Eastern and Western exchange.

Isamu Noguchi Award Honorees