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David Adjaye, Cai Guo-Qiang to receive 2020 Isamu Noguchi Award

Architect Sir David Adjaye OBE and artist Cai Guo-Qiang have been selected as recipients of the 2020 Isamu Noguchi Award by The Noguchi Museum. The award is conferred on individuals who share Noguchi's spirit of innovation, global consciousness, and commitment to Eastern and Western cultural exchange.
L-R: David Adjaye (© Chris Schwagga) and Cai Guo-Qiang (courtesy of Cai Studio)

Sir David Adjaye OBE


Widely recognised as one of the leading architects of his generation, Ghanaian-British architect Sir David Adjaye OBE has received international acclaim for his impact on the field. Adjaye, who was born in Tanzania to Ghanaian parents in 1966, cites influences ranging from contemporary art, music, and science, to African art forms and the civic life of cities.

Adjaye Associates' ruby-colored Contemporary Art Center opened in Texas. Image © Dror Baldinger courtesy of Ruby City and Adjaye Associates.

Like Noguchi, he has collaborated with a variety of influential art world and cultural figures. In 2000, he founded Adjaye Associates, which today has projects spanning the globe. In 2017, he was knighted by Queen Elizabeth II.

David Adjaye’s NMAAHC in Washington. Image © Alan Karchmer

Ongoing projects include a new home for The Studio Museum in Harlem, New York; 130 William, a high-rise residential tower in New York’s financial district; the new Sydney Plaza, a public plaza, community building, and artwork in Sydney’s Central Business District; The Abrahamic Family House, an interfaith complex in Abu Dhabi; the UK Holocaust Memorial and Learning Centre in London; and the National Cathedral of Ghana in Accra.

Cai Guo-Qiang


Born in 1957 in Quanzhou, China, artist Cai Guo-Qiang works in a variety of mediums and genres, and is especially well known for his innovative works that incorporate gunpowder and controlled explosions.

From his early training in stage design to his exploration of multiple mediums not only for artistic expression, but also as commentary on contemporary social issues, Cai’s involvement in diverse fields reflects the same multidisciplinary, boundary-defying spirit that Noguchi embraced.

Cai Guo-Qiang's porcelain bird installation (10,000 gunpowder-blackened porcelain starlings) suspended at the National Gallery of Victoria, Melbourne. Image courtesy of The House Glass.

Cai’s solo exhibitions and projects have been presented at The Metropolitan Museum of Art, New York (2006); Solomon R. Guggenheim Museum, New York (2008); Pushkin State Museum of Fine Arts, Moscow (2017); Museo del Prado, Madrid (2018); Uffizi Galleries, Florence (2018); National Archaeological Museum of Naples (2019); National Gallery of Victoria, Melbourne (2019); and Cleveland Museum of Art (2019), among other venues. His solo exhibition Da Vincis do Povo toured Brazil in 2013 and was the most visited exhibition by a living artist worldwide that year, attracting over one million visitors.

Cai has received numerous honours, including the Golden Lion at the Venice Biennale (1999), the Hiroshima Art Prize (2007), and the Fukuoka Asian Culture Prize (2009).

Cai Guo-Qiang's "Mushroom Clouds" above the Regenstein Library at the University of Chicago. Image courtesy of Fireworks.

In 2012, he won the prestigious Praemium Imperiale and was one of five artists to receive the first US Department of State Medal of Arts for his outstanding commitment to international cultural exchange. Other honours include the Barnett and Annalee Newman Foundation Award (2015), the Bonnefanten Award for Contemporary Art (BACA), and the Japan Foundation Award (both 2016).

Cai served as director of visual and special effects for the opening and closing ceremonies of the 2008 Summer Olympics in Beijing.

Previous winners


The award will be presented at the museum’s annual benefit, on Tuesday, 19 May 2020.

Previous winners of the Isamu Noguchi Award include: Lord Norman Foster and Hiroshi Sugimoto (2014); Jasper Morrison and Yoshio Taniguchi (2015); Tadao Ando and Elyn Zimmerman (2016); John Pawson and Hiroshi Senju (2017); Naoto Fukasawa and Edwina von Gal (2018); and Rei Kawakubo (2019).

Article originally published on World Architecture Community.
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