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Dec 05 2019

Byron Kim Receives Robert De Niro, Sr. Prize 2019

by Pamela Wong

Portrait of BYRON KIM. Photo by Lois Conner for ArtAsiaPacific.

On December 3, the Estate of Robert De Niro, Sr. and James Cohan announced Korean-American artist Byron Kim as the recipient of the 2019 Robert De Niro, Sr. Prize for his midcareer achievement and contributions to the field of painting. He will be awarded a cash prize of USD 25,000, administered by the Tribeca Film Institute. 

Born in La Jolla, California in 1961, Kim is currently a senior critic at Yale University.  His minimalistic colored paintings appear to be abstract at first glance, but embody his personal experiences in a larger cultural confrontation, balancing between pure abstraction and representation. He is most well-known for his ongoing portraiture series Synecdoche (1991– ), debuted during the 1993 Whitney Biennial. The project comprises of hundreds of color panels that reflect a wide range of human skin tones, collected from those around him. He has recently mounted solo exhibitions at Contemporary Art Cleveland, Ohio (2019) and Museum of Contemporary Art San Diego (2015). His works are collected, among others, by the Art Institute of Chicago; Brooklyn Museum; National Gallery of Art, Washington D.C.; Whitney Museum of American Art, New York; and London’s Tate Modern.  

Nominees for the prize are made each year by a selection committee, which in 2019 included associate curator of the Elizabeth A. Sackler Center for Feminist Art at the Brooklyn Museum, Carmen Hermo; independent curator and critic Norman Kleeblatt, formerly chief curator of The Jewish Museum, New York; and William S. Smith, editor of Art in America.

Named after the celebrated New York school post-war artist, the prize was established by his son, the actor Robert De Niro, in 2011. Since then, it has been awarded to a series of American painters, including Stanley Whitney, Catherine Murphy, Joyce Pensato, and RH Quaytman.

Pamela Wong is ArtAsiaPacific’s assistant editor. 

To read more of ArtAsiaPacific’s articles, visit our Digital Library.

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