Photographer Deana Lawson, the Dorothy Krauklis ’78 Professor of Visual Arts in the Lewis Center, has been named winner of the Deutsche Börse Photography Foundation Prize. The prestigious Deutsche Börse prize is considered to be among the most important honors in the field of photography and comes with a monetary award of £30,000.
Lawson received the prize based on “Centropy,” her exhibition presented at Kunsthalle Basel in the summer and fall of 2020. “Centropy” drew on the thermodynamic concept of centropy and incorporated a dense constellation of large-scale photographs, 16mm projections, rock crystals and holograms that evoked “the language of the vernacular family photo album and the art-historical masterwork in meticulously choreographed portraits that are at once familiar and painterly,” according to the prize jury. Referring to the impulse in her work of renewal through creative energy, Lawson shared “I’m actually trying to image the mythic realm, to use the person as a vehicle to represent an entity beyond what is actually present.”
The Deutsche Börse Photography Foundation Prize is awarded annually to a living artist of any nationality who has made the most significant contribution, either through an exhibition or publication, to the medium of photography in Europe in the previous year. A committee of international artists and curators juries the prize.
Along with Lawson, photographers Gilles Peress, Jo Ractliffe and Anastasia Samoylova made the shortlist for this year’s prize. An exhibition of work by all four photographers work is on view through June 12 at The Photographers’ Gallery in London, then through June 30 at Deutsche Börse’s headquarters in Eschborn/Frankfurt.
Lawson has been a member of the Program in Visual Arts faculty in the Lewis Center for the Arts since 2012 and was promoted in 2021 to the status of Professor. Each year, she teaches undergraduate courses in analog and digital photography for the visual arts program. Lawson’s work was included in the 2017 Whitney Biennial, New Photography 2011 at the Museum of Modern Art, New York, and she had a solo exhibition at The Art Institute of Chicago in 2015. Her first museum survey opened in 2021 at the ICA Boston. She has participated in group exhibitions at The Studio Museum, Harlem; MoMA P.S.1 Contemporary Art Center; Artists Space, New York; and the Spelman College Museum of Fine Art, Atlanta. Gallery shows include Rhona Hoffman Gallery, Chicago; Yancey Richardson Gallery, New York; Helene Bailly Gallery, Paris; and Light Work Gallery, Syracuse, New York. Lawson’s work has been published in The New Yorker, TIME Magazine, BOMB, The Collector’s Guide to New Art Photography, Photo District News, Time Out New York, Contact Sheet #154, and PQ Journal for Contemporary Photography. She is the recipient of a Guggenheim Fellowship, the John Gutmann Photography Fellowship, a Rema Hort Mann Foundation Grant, an Aaron Siskind Fellowship Grant, and a New York Foundation for the Arts Grant, among others.
In 2020, Lawson was the first photographer to receive the Hugo Boss Prize, an award that includes $100,000 and a solo exhibition at New York’s Guggenheim Museum. The Hugo Boss Prize: Deana Lawson, Centropy was on view at the museum through October 11, 2021. Her accompanying short film of the same name, a meditative visual essay that expands upon the personal histories and thematic structures from the Centropy gallery installation, is available to watch in the exhibition archive.