Ghanaian-British architect David Adjaye and Chinese artist Cai Guo-Qiang have been named the winners of the 2020 Isamu Noguchi Award, an annual prize given to those who “share Noguchi’s spirit of innovation, global consciousness, and commitment to East/West cultural exchange.”
In 2000, Adjaye founded the architecture firm Adjaye Associates, which has offices in London, New York, and Accra. Its projects range from private homes, civics buildings and museums to furniture collections, product design, and exhibitions and pavilions. Some of their most notable buildings are the National Museum of African American History & Culture, in Washington, DC; Ruby City, a new art center in San Antonio, Texas; the Sugar Hill Mixed-Use Development, in Harlem, New York; and the Ethelbert Cooper Gallery of African and African American Art at the Hutchins Center at Harvard University. Their current projects include the Studio Museum in Harlem; the UK Holocaust Memorial and Learning Centre in London; and the National Cathedral of Ghana in Accra. Adjaye was knighted by Queen Elizabeth II in 2017.
Cai, who is based in New York, began experimenting with gunpowder in 1984 and staged his first public explosion in 1989, which would become central to his practice. He also incorporates traditional mythology, Daoism, Maoism, Chinese medicine, military history, and Buddhist philosophy into his works, which have been exhibited in solo exhibitions at the Metropolitan Museum of Art, New York (2006); the Solomon R. Guggenheim Museum, New York (2008); the Pushkin State Museum of Fine Arts, Moscow (2017); the Museo del Prado, Madrid (2018); and the Uffizi Galleries, Florence (2018), among other venues. He received the Golden Lion at the Venice Biennale in 1999, the Hiroshima Art Prize in 2007, and the Fukuoka Asian Culture Prize in 2009.
Previous winners of the award, which is now in its seventh year, include Tadao Ando, Norman Foster, Naoto Fukasawa, Edwina von Gal Jasper Morrison, John Pawson, Hiroshi Senju, Hiroshi Sugimoto, Yoshio Taniguchi, and Elyn Zimmerman. Last year, the honor went to Rei Kawakubo.