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Charles Gaines Named Recipient of 2019 MacDowell Medal

Charles Gaines Named Recipient of 2019 MacDowell Medal
Renowned artist Charles Gaines awarded the 2019 Edward MacDowell Medal in the Arts. Photo by Fredrik Nilsen, Courtesy of the artist. Click here for high-resolution version.


California Institute of the Arts (CalArts) is pleased to announce that renowned conceptual artist and School of Art faculty member 

Charles Gaines has been named the recipient of the 2019 Edward MacDowell Medal in the Arts. The Edward MacDowell Medal, first awarded in 1960 to American playwright and novelist Thornton Wilder, is annually granted to one person who has attained “artistic excellence.”

Gaines rose to prominence for his abstract works, which took form in drawings, photographs, acrylic glass works, installations and even musical compositions. His pieces distinctly adhere to structure and rule-based systems, particularly Charles Gaines: Gridwork 1974-1999, his first survey exhibition at The Studio Museum in Harlem.

"Charles is among the most significant conceptual artists in the world, and we at CalArts have been lucky to have him on faculty for the last 30 years," said CalArts President Ravi Rajan, "He has influenced generations of young artists, many of whom have gone on to their own outstanding careers. Charles has joked that One of the benefits of teaching is that when your students become successful they can get you shows.’ It's great that today, others are recognizing what many of us have always known -- Charles is a genius who interrogates the ideas and issues that affect us most as a society. He is a perfect addition to the august company of MacDowell Medal recipients."   

Gaines has had more than 80 solo shows and numerous group exhibitions around the globe, including the 2007 and 2015 Biennale di Venezia. Among the LA-based artist’s numerous accolades are the 2007 United States Artists Fellowship Award, the 2013 John Simon Guggenheim Memorial Foundation Fellowship and the 2018 REDCAT Award.
The award is issued by the MacDowell Colony, the first artist residency program in the United States, located in Peterborough, N.H. The Colony is credited with supporting more than 8,000 emerging and established artists across disciplines since its inception. Past MacDowell Medal awardees include comic author Art Spiegelman, composer Leonard Bernstein, artist Georgia O’Keeffe, architect I.M. Pei and novelist Toni Morrison.