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The Smithsonian’s Archives of American Art celebrated the 2022 recipients of the Archives of American Art Medal and The Lawrence A. Fleischman Award for Scholarly Excellence in the Field of American Art History Tuesday, Oct. 25, in New York’s Rainbow Room at the Archives’ annual gala. Both awards recognize individuals who have made transformative contributions in the field of American art. Lowery Stokes Sims received The Lawrence A. Fleischman Award for Scholarly Excellence in the Field of American Art History, and Peter M. Brant and Ursula von Rydingsvard were awarded the Archives of American Art Medal.
“We were thrilled to gather our board of trustees and distinguished guests for our annual gala for the first time since the beginning of the COVID-19 pandemic to honor Lowery Stokes Sims, Peter M. Brant and Ursula von Rydingsvard for their lasting and significant contributions to the history of American art,” said Liza Kirwin, interim director of the Archives of American Art. “From sustaining art museum programming to expanding who and what is included in major arts spaces, their commitment to the field is nothing short of extraordinary.”
The Lawrence A. Fleischman Award for Scholarly Excellence in the Field of American Art History was established in 1998 by Trustee Emerita Barbara G. Fleischman as a tribute to her late husband, who co-founded the Archives of American Art in 1954. Each year, the award is presented to a distinguished American art scholar, writer or critic.
Sims is a specialist in modern and contemporary art, craft and design and is known for her particular interest in a diverse and inclusive global art world. Throughout her five-decade career she has supported artists whose identities and work reflect those values. Sims retired as curator emerita from the Museum of Arts and Design in 2015. She served on the education and curatorial staff of the Metropolitan Museum of Art (1972–1999) and as executive director, president and adjunct curator at The Studio Museum in Harlem (2000–2007). She has recently served as a guest curator for exhibitions at the Caribbean Cultural Center African Diaspora Institute, Grounds for Sculpture, the Contemporary Craft Museum in Los Angeles, the Contemporary Arts Center in Cincinnati, the Reginald F. Lewis Museum of Maryland African American History and Culture, the University of Maryland, Baltimore County and as a consultant for the Baltimore Museum of Art. She was the 2018 Kurt Varnedoe Visiting Professor at the Institute of Fine Arts and adjunct professor at the Institute of Fine Arts in 2019 and 2020, and the 2021–22 Kress-Beinecke Professor at The Center, National Gallery of Art.
The Archives of American Art Medal honors distinguished members of the American arts community.
Brant is a philanthropist, art collector, manufacturing executive and publisher. He is chairman and CEO of White Birch Paper in Greenwich, Connecticut, a company his father co-founded in the 1940s. Passionate about contemporary art since college, Brant’s extensive collection includes works by Jean-Michel Basquiat, Andy Warhol, Glenn Ligon and Rita Ackermann. In 2009, Brant established the Brant Foundation Study Center, based in Greenwich. Dedicated to promoting education and appreciation of contemporary art and design, the organization facilitates loans of Brant’s artworks to museums and other cultural organizations, supports contemporary art education with in-house programming and makes the collection available to the public for free. Brant is also a longtime supporter of major museums. He serves on art advisory groups at The Andy Warhol Museum, Pittsburgh; Hunter College, New York; and the Metropolitan Museum of Art, New York. He is a former trustee of the Solomon R. Guggenheim Foundation and the Museum of Contemporary Art in Los Angeles. Among his awards are the American Art Award from the Whitney Museum of American Art (2013) and the Montblanc de la Culture Arts Patronage Award (2015). He was honored by the New York Academy of Art in 2015.
von Rydingsvard is a Brooklyn-based sculptor whose career spans 40 years. Working primarily with cedar and bronze, von Rydingsvard creates monumental abstract forms that recall the trauma of her childhood in Nazi labor and refugee camps. Her work is represented in the permanent collections of over 30 museums, including the Metropolitan Museum of Art, New York; Museum of Modern Art, New York; Whitney Museum of American Art, New York; Walker Art Center, Minnesota; Nelson-Atkins Museum of Art, Missouri; Storm King Art Center, New York; and Detroit Institute of Arts. Commissions of von Rydingsvard’s work are on permanent view at the Microsoft Corporation, Washington State; Princeton University, New Jersey; the Massachusetts Institute of Technology; the Bloomberg Building, New York; the Queens Family Courthouse, New York; and the Barclays Center, Brooklyn. Recent solo museum exhibitions include “Ursula von Rydingsvard: The Contour of Feeling” at the Fabric Workshop and Museum in Philadelphia. Von Rydingsvard was inducted into the Academy of Arts and Letters in 2008 and interviewed for the Archives of American Art’s oral-history program in 2011.
About the Gala
After a two-year hiatus due to the global pandemic, the annual Archives of American Art Gala welcomed distinguished guests for a cocktail reception and seated dinner at the Rainbow Room in New York City. Held almost every year since 1988, the annual gala has recognized those who embody the Archives of American Art’s mission to collect, preserve and make available the primary sources that document the history of American art. Past honorees include Chuck Close, the Ford Foundation, Agnes Gund, Roy Lichtenstein, Ligon, Richard J. Powell and Alice L. Walton.
George Frederick Mead Merck, the chair of the Archives’ board of trustees, also serves as chair of the Gala Planning Committee, whose members include Virginia G. Bobins, Anthony F. Cummings, Martha J. Fleischman, Leslie J. Garfield, Karen Z. Gray-Krehbiel, Evelyn Day Lasry and Deborah Schmidt Robinson.
Proceeds from the Archives of American Art Gala provide critical unrestricted support for the Archives. More information is available on the gala’s website.
About the Archives of American Art
Founded in 1954, the Archives of American Art fosters advanced research through the accumulation and dissemination of primary sources, unequaled in historical depth and breadth, that document more than 200 years of the nation’s artists and art communities. The Archives provides access to these materials through its two research centers, exhibitions and publications, including the Archives of American Art Journal, the longest-running scholarly journal in the field of American art. An international leader in the digitization of archival collections, the Archives provides online access to more than 3 million documents. The oral-history collection includes more than 2,500 audio interviews, the largest accumulation of in-depth, first-person accounts of the American art world. Visit the Archives’ website.
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Jenny L. Williams