Lubaina Himid Receives $200,000 for One of the Art World’s Biggest, Most ‘Transformative’ Prizes

Lubaina Himid, an artist whose work has seen a surge in critical attention following her historic win of the Turner Prize in 2017, is the recipient of the 2024 Suzanne Deal Booth / FLAG Art Foundation Prize. Through the award, she will win $200,000 and have a show that will appear at the Contemporary Austin in Texas and the FLAG Art Foundation in New York in 2024.

Founded by Suzanne Deal Booth and Glenn Fuhrmann, both of whom appear on the ARTnews Top 200 Collectors list, the prize is among the biggest ones in the U.S. In an interview, sharon maidenberg, the director and CEO of the Contemporary Austin, said that the prize is designed to be “transformative for an artist receiving it, not unlike a MacArthur ‘genius’ award,” which comes with $625,000 over five years.

Himid described a feeling of being “shell shocked” when she learned she was the winner of the award earlier this year.

“The most shocking thing, in a way, is that it’s an American prize,” she said in an interview. “As a British artist, you don’t expect to win an American prize. I know people say it all the time when they win things, but I really am honored.”

Himid, who was born in Zanzibar and is based in Preston, England, makes paintings, installations, and more. Currently the subject of a retrospective at Tate Modern, her work often deals with the immigrant experience and legacies of racism. Drawing on her background as a set designer, she sometimes interweaves references to theater in her work.

Although Himid has been considered an important figure for several generations of Black British artists, it wasn’t until the past few years that her work began to appear regularly in the world’s biggest institutions. Since 2017, when she became the first Black woman to win the Turner Prize, she has shown her work at the High Line in New York, the Berlin Biennale, the Sharjah Art Foundation, and more.

In addition to her artistic practice, Himid has also worked as a curator, critic, and educator, and she founded the Blk Art Group, a British association of Black artists that has been considered formative to the British Black arts movement of the 1980s.

While Himid has only just begun the process of designing her 2024 show, she said it will most likely take the form of an installation that, like the Tate Modern retrospective, will treat the space as though it were a theater. She said that when she visits Austin next month, she plans to focus her attention on sites where “ordinary, everyday interactions” take place, like markets and music venues.

With the exhibition resulting from the prize, Himid said she wants “audiences to be center-stage, as though they’re the most important people in the room and not the art.”

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