The J. Paul Getty Trust has named this year’s recipients of its J. Paul Getty Medal, which recognizes significant contributions to the arts. The awardees are the classics scholar Mary Beard and artists Ed Ruscha and Lorna Simpson. Each will receive their medals in September at a Getty Center dinner in Los Angeles.
In a statement, Maria Hummer-Tuttle, the chair of the J. Paul Getty board of trustees, said, “We are honored to present the medal this year to three leaders who have helped transform and deepen our understanding and appreciation of the visual arts and the humanities.”
Beard is one of the most widely respected classicists in the world. Her 2008 book Pompeii: The Life of a Roman Town offered a full-rounded view of Pompeii and its citizens’ habits. Last year, she published How Do We Look: The Body, the Divine, and the Question of Civilization. She also serves as the classics editor of the Times Literary Supplement and runs a blog called A Don’s Life.
In his photo-based works, prints, and paintings, Ruscha plays with connections between text and image, often mining simple phrases for clever plays on words. He represented the United States at the 2005 edition of the Venice Biennale, and participated in three editions of Documenta in 1972, 1982, and 1992. A survey spanning five decades of his work made stops at the Hayward Gallery in London, the Moderna Museet in Stockholm, and the Haus der Kunst in Munich.
Simpson frequently addresses themes related to blackness and femininity in her photographs, which also play on the ways in which pictures can communicate unseen narratives. A 2013–14 traveling retrospective of her work was shown at the Jeu de Paume in Paris, the Haus der Kunst in Munich, Germany; the BALTIC Centre for Contemporary Art in Gateshead, England; and the Addison Gallery of American Art in Andover, Massachusetts.
Past winners of the Getty Medal have included artist Richard Serra, Studio Museum in Harlem director Thelma Golden, writer Mario Vargas Llosa, and ARTnews “Top 200” collector Agnes Gund.