The Venice Biennale, which opens to the public in a little more than three weeks, announced today that it has awarded its highest honor, the Golden Lion for Lifetime Achievement, to artist El Anatsui, saying in a statement that the prize “acknowledges not just his recent successes internationally, but also his artistic influence amongst two generations of artists working in West Africa.”
In addition, the biennale said it would give its Special Golden Lion for Services to the Arts to Susanne Ghez, who served as executive director and chief curator of the Renaissance Society at the University of Chicago for 40 years, and is currently an adjunct curator at the Art Institute of Chicago. She “is undeniably one of the most distinguished personalities in international contemporary art,” the biennale said in a statement.
The Golden Lions are presented by the biennale’s board of directors, which is chaired by Paolo Baratta, “upon the recommendation” of the exhibition’s curator, Okwui Enwezor.
Meanwhile, the biennale named the members of its international jury, which will be charged with awarding prizes to the national pavilions. They are:
— Naomi Beckwith, curator at the Museum of Contemporary Art Chicago,
— Sabine Bergeweiser, director of the Museum der Moderne Salzburg,
— Mario Codognato, the chief curator of 21er Haus Vienna,
— Ranjit Hoskote, a writer and curator, and
— Yongwoo Lee, a curator and former director of the Gwangju Biennale Foundation.
The Venice Biennale opens to the public May 9.