Austin art prize gets richer with new $200,000 cash total

The Contemporary Austin honor is now named Suzanne Deal Booth/FLAG Art Foundation Prize.


New York-based arts patrons decide to collaborate with Austin team to make existing award bigger.

See the exhibit from prize’s first artist through Aug. 26 at the Contemporary Austin, Jones Center.

Austin’s richest art prize just doubled its cash payout from $100,000 to $200,000. Add in the costs of newly commissioned work, two exhibitions and a scholarly catalogue, and the value for the biennial prize could rise to $800,000.

Meanwhile, the official name for the honor handed out by the Contemporary Austin has lengthened from the Suzanne Deal Booth Art Prize, founded in 2016 and originally $100,000, into the Suzanne Deal Booth/FLAG Art Foundation Prize.

DETAILS: Austin to be home to Booth Art Prize

New York-based patrons Glenn and Amanda Fuhrman and their foundation, created in 2008 to support contemporary art, have joined Booth, among Austin’s best-known collectors and patrons, to give the expanded and unrestricted award to an artist picked by an independent expert committee.

“I am incredibly grateful to Suzanne Deal Booth, who had the initial vision for an art prize of this significance and magnitude,” said Louis Grachos, executive director and CEO of the Contemporary Austin. “We pride ourselves in being an artist-centric institution, giving artists important opportunities through commissions and organizing major exhibitions at both our downtown museum and at our lakeside sculpture park. Like Suzanne, Amanda and Glenn Fuhrman recognize the singular power of new and innovative contemporary art to cultivate ideas and deepen our connection with the global community.”

The cash prize also comes with a fresh art commission, scholarly catalogue and solo show at the Contemporary Austin and FLAG in New York. To make the prize sustainable through at least through 2026, the costs for the creation of new work, exhibition, travel to New York, catalogue and programming will now not exceed $600,000. That means the total value of each prize could reach $800,000, making it one of the richest in the country.

“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,” Glenn Fuhrman said. “We were inspired by what Suzanne, Louis and the team at the Contemporary Austin accomplished with the inaugural 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.”

Glenn Fuhrman is cofounder and co-managing partner of MSD Capital, formed in 1998 to manage the investments for Michael Dell, his family and a few other investors. Amanda Fuhrman is a nonpracticing attorney who previously worked for Simpson, Thacher & Bartlett law firm. The Fuhrmans are involved with multiple causes and serve in leadership positions for several nonprofits.

FIRST BOOTH PRIZE: Exhibit at the Contemporary explores the architecture and politics of race

Through Aug. 26, a solo show by the current art prize winner, Rodney McMillian, can be seen at the Contemporary’s Jones Center on Congress Avenue. A catalogue, including a history of McMillian’s performance-based work, is expected out in the fall.

The 2020 prize winner will be announced in July.

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