Sir Frank Bowling to Receive the 2022 Wolfgang Hahn Prize

Tuesday, October 26, 2021
Sir Frank Bowling to Receive the 2022 Wolfgang Hahn Prize

Frank Bowling (1934 in Bartica, Guyana) is the recipient of the 2022 Wolfgang Hahn Prize. The award ceremony will take place on November 15, 2022, on the eve of Art Cologne 2022.

Frank Bowling (1934 in Bartica, Guyana) is the recipient of the 2022 Wolfgang Hahn Prize. The award ceremony will take place on November 15, 2022, on the eve of Art Cologne 2022.

The decision was made by the jury consisting of Zoé Whitley, director of the Chisenhale Gallery in London, and the board members of the Gesellschaft für Moderne Kunst: Mayen Beckmann (chairwoman), Gabriele Bierbaum, Sabine DuMont Schütte, Yilmaz Dziewior (director of the Museum Ludwig), Jörg Engels (treasurer), and Robert Müller-Grünow. Guest juror Zoé Whitley stated about the selection of the 2022 Wolfgang Hahn Prize winner: "Frank Bowling's paintings and critical writings have nothing short of redefined the possibilities of paint for the past six decades. The 2022 Wolfgang Hahn Prize recognises a resolute and uniquely innovative figure in the history of abstract painting. Spanning lived experience in Guyana, Britain and the United States, Bowling's oeuvre preserves histories in pigment, wax and gel. With peerless chromatic and material sensibilities, Frank Bowling establishes rules for himself in the studio which he invents, adheres to and then disrupts with a subsequent series of utterly new rules and parameters for the picture plane. His is a complex thought process executed on canvas, responding to the long tradition of painting in a consistently dynamic manner."

 Frank Bowling, Flogging the Dead Donkey (2020) Acrylic and acrylic gel on canvas with marouflage (102.5 x 185.5cm), © Frank Bowling. All Rights Reserved, DACS 2021

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. The title of Bowling’s painting Flogging the Dead Donkey (2020) is a wry statement about monochrome paintings: it’s been done over and over again, like flogging a dead donkey. And yet the title is ironic because in this and other works, Bowling has taken painting in a new direction. He encountered the practice of monochrome painting during his early years in New York starting in 1966, when he engaged with 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 earlier generations of colorists. 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 are inimitable. This late work, which illustrates Bowling’s continuing engagement with color and geometry, gives life to his maxim that “the possibilities of color are infinite.”

“The artist 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. Frank Bowling 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.”

Sir Frank Bowling expressed delight at the news, "I’m thrilled, the Wolfgang Hahn Prize is such a prestigious award. Ever since visiting Munich in my student days I’ve had long abiding, deep affection for Germany and this is one of my proudest achievements."

Frank Bowling (1934 in 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 the Order of the British Empire in 2008 for his services to the arts. In 2020, he was awarded a knighthood in Queen’s birthday honours.



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Image of the Day

Roman Pyatkovka, “VELVET SADNESS”, (1996), photograph glued on velvet passe-partout (paper).

Roman Pyatkovka, “VELVET SADNESS”, (1996), photograph glued on velvet passe-partout (paper).


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