Double or Nothing

Austin's most ambitious art prize doubles to join world's largest

Austin's most ambitious art prize doubles to join world's largest

The Contemporary Austin
The Contemporary Austin announced the expansion of the Suzanne Deal Booth/FLAG Art Foundation Prize. Photo courtesy of The Contemporary Austin

When Austin art patron Suzanne Deal Booth announced in 2016 that she was creating the $100,000 Suzanne Deal Booth Art Prize, it turned an international spotlight on the local art scene. Suddenly, one of the largest prizes in the art world was not only coming from the United States, but from the heart of Texas. 

On May 2, the Contemporary Austin and the FLAG Foundation announced the creation of the Suzanne Deal Booth/FLAG Art Foundation Prize, which doubles the biennial award to $200,000. In addition to cash, the prize also covers up to $600,000 in production and travel expenses and the creation of a scholarly catalog and educational programming, making it one of the most ambitious (read: largest) prizes in the art world.

Like Booth's first prize, the $200,000 will be given unrestricted (basically, no strings attached) every two years to an artist selected by an independent advisory committee. The artist will then premiere his or her show at the Contemporary Austin followed by a show at the FLAG Foundation in New York, a nonprofit exhibition space founded by Glen and Amanda Fuhrman. Together with Deal Booth, the Fuhrmans have committed to funding the new prize through at least 2026.

“Amanda and I have been interested in supporting artists through a major prize that would allow them the freedom to live and focus on creating their most ambitious work," said Glenn Fuhrman in a release. "We were inspired by what Suzanne, Louis [Grachos, executive director of the Contemporary], and the team at the Contemporary Austin accomplished with the inaugural Suzanne Deal Booth Art Prize, so rather than initiating a new award, we realized that by collaborating we could collectively create an unparalleled opportunity for the artists and institutions involved going forward.” 

The Booth prize's inaugural winner, Rodney McMillian, is currently showing his newest exhibition, "Against a Civic Death," at the Contemporary's Jones Center on Congress Avenue. McMillian's work examines the social and political history of the United States to create a "discomforting social critique of American histories, injustices, and structures of power." 

According to the Contemporary, the Suzanne Deal Booth/FLAG Art Foundation will announce the winner of the 2020 prize in July.