American painter Christina Quarles will receive $50,000 as the first recipient of the Jorge M. and Darlene Pérez Prize, a newly recreated unrestricted award given by Pérez Art Museum Miami and the family of the billionaire developer.
The annual prize, funded by the Pérez Family Foundation, is designed to recognize accomplished early-stage contemporary artists for whom the money and recognition can have significant impact. This year’s winner was selected by PAMM’s curatorial staff; in future years it will be awarded by a jury, said museum director Franklin Sirmans.
“We didn’t want it to go to an established master. We want to concentrate on what hopefully will become a very important, curated prize to an artist who has a great career and great talent” but is still building their career, said Jorge Pérez. “The prize will be a sign of approval and say to the artist that we believe in you. Artists need that type of recognition, that extra push.”
Said Sirmans, “This is truly a recognition that is international and covers the contemporary space. We are recognizing achievement at an early enough stage that this prize will have a substantial impact on the life and career of the artist. While we’re celebrating achievement, we’re also looking for innovation that suggests a kind of artist who is willing to take chances.”
Quarles, 34, who is based in Los Angeles, paints abstract gestural images addressing themes of sexual and racial identity. Her work is held by South Florida institutions including PAMM, the Rubell Family Collection and Girls’ Club, along with those of London’s Tate Modern, New York’s Whitney Museum and the Los Angeles County Museum of Art. In 2017, she was awarded a residency at Miami’s Fountainhead.
The prize is the second funded by the Pérez family. Earlier this year, the Miami-based YoungArts foundation announced the Jorge M. Pérez Award, a $25,000 grant for an emerging artist who is an alumnus of YoungArts, which recognized high school-age artists from around the country.
The Pérez Prize is Miami’s answer to the coveted Turner Prize, an annual £40,000 (about $52,000) award organized by London’s Tate Gallery in recognition of a British artist, and the Hugo Boss Prize, a $100,000 prize organized by the Guggenheim Gallery.