2022 Bucksbaum Award Goes to Ralph Lemon

The interdisciplinary artist is the recipient of the 2022 Bucksbaum Award for his outstanding contribution to the history of American art.

A work by Ralph Lemon included in the 2022 Whitney Biennial. Photo: Whitney Museum.

A work by Ralph Lemon included in the 2022 Whitney Biennial. Photo: Whitney Museum.

The Whitney Museum of American Art announces that Ralph Lemon is the recipient of the 2022 Bucksbaum Award, which “seeks to honor an artist with the promise to make a lasting contribution to the history of American art”. Lemon was chosen from the sixty- three intergenerational artists and collectives working across disciplines and media in Whitney Biennial 2022: Quiet as It’s Kept.

“Ralph Lemon’s talent and range over a career dedicated to performance, drawing, educating, and the pursuit of an imaginative creative process make him one of the most compelling American artists working today,” said Adam D. Weinberg, the Alice Pratt Brown Director of the Whitney. “I am thrilled that he is receiving the Bucksbaum Award, which was initiated by our long-time trustee Melva Bucksbaum, and celebrates the excellence of living artists.”

Ralph Lemon, is a choreographer, writer, visual artist, and curator based in New York, NY. He is currently the Artistic Director of Cross Performance, a company dedicated to the creation of cross-cultural and cross-disciplinary performances and presentations. His most recent works include Chorus (2015), Scaffold Room (2015), Four Walls (2012), and How Can You Stay in The House All Day And Not Go Anywhere? (2008-2010).

An interdisciplinary artist, who works primarily in performance, Ralph Lemon has made drawings throughout most of his creative life. He has described the purpose of these works, which have been constant and mostly private, as “a mapping akin to an anthropological practice,” involving research and art making in places such as Japan, Haiti, Côte d’Ivoire and, for many years, the Mississippi Delta. For the Biennial, he developed a choreography of presentation, exhibiting hundreds of drawings from over or more than twenty-five years in five transient variations that unfolded monthly over the course of the exhibition. Themes in Lemon’s work range from elaborate visual meditations and the nature of the artistic process itself to experiments refracting Black American culture, symbols, icons, music, and joy.

The six-member Bucksbaum jury included Weinberg, Rothkopf, the Whitney Biennial 2022 co- curators David Breslin, DeMartini Family Curator and Director of Curatorial Initiatives at the Whitney and Adrienne Edwards, Engell Speyer Family Curator and Director of Curatorial Affairs at the Whitney, Huey Copeland, BFC Presidential Associate Professor, University of Pennsylvania, and Meg Onli, Curator and Writer.

The ten previous Bucksbaum recipients are Paul Pfeiffer (2000), Irit Batsry (2002), Raymond Pettibon (2004), Mark Bradford (2006), Omer Fast (2008), Michael Asher (2010), Sarah Michelson (2012), Zoe Leonard (2014), Pope.L (2017), and Tiona Nekkia McClodden (2019).

Lemon will participate in a special project at the Museum that will take place in the coming months. More information will be available on the Museum’s website as details are confirmed.



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