THE HIGH MUSEUM OF ART announced Naomi Beckwith is the recipient of the 2024 David C. Driskell Prize. The $50,000 prize is awarded annually to an artist, curator, or scholar in recognition of outstanding contributions to the field of African American art.

Beckwith is the deputy director and Jennifer and David Stockman chief curator of the Solomon R. Guggenheim Foundation and Museum. The Guggenheim is a powerful art institution with an international footprint, making Beckwith one of the highest ranking and most prominently positioned Black curators in the art world. She will be honored at the Driskell Prize gala at the High Museum in Atlanta on April 26.

“Beckwith has a long and illustrious track record of championing Black artists and their contributions to the field, so it’s only fitting that we recognize and support her work with the 2024 Driskell Prize,” High Museum Director Rand Suffolk said in a statement. “We look forward to celebrating her at the year’s gala and to welcoming her into the company of our distinguished prize recipients.”

SINCE 2021, NEW YORK-BASED BECKWITH has served as deputy director and chief curator at the Guggenheim, where she provides strategic direction and is responsible for the institution’s expansive exhibitions, publications, and collections across four international museums in New York, Venice, Bilbao, and Abu Dhabi.

Her curatorial career spans more than 15 years, organizing dozens of exhibitions that center identity, shed light on multidisciplinary practices, and deeply explore the work of singular artists, often for the first time in a meaningful way. Many of the highlights focus on artists of African descent.

Beckwith curated “Lynette Yiadom-Boakye: Any Number of Preoccupations” (Studio Museum in Harlem, 2010-11). The pivotal show was the British artist’s first-ever solo exhibition. She also co-curated “Howardena Pindell: What Remains To Be Seen” (2018-19), the first major survey of the groundbreaking artist, which opened at the Museum of Contemporary Chicago and traveled to the Virginia Museum of Fine Arts, and Rose Art Museum at Brandeis University.

Other notable exhibitions include “30 Seconds Off an Inch” (Studio Museum in Harlem, 2009–10), which featured 42 artists spanning three generations who work with non-art materials and “challenge ideas of what art can be.” In 2015, Beckwith co-curated “The Freedom Principle: Experiments in Art and Music, 1965 to Now” (MCA Chicago; ICA Los Angeles, 2017). The exhibition linked the “vibrant legacy of the 1960s African American avant-garde to current art and culture.

“Prisoner of Love” was anchored by Arthur Jafa’s celebrated opus, “Love Is the Message, the Message Is Death,” a seven-minute video montage about the African American experience (MCA Chicago, 2019). In addition, she was part of the curatorial team that rallied to complete work on “Grief and Grievance: Art and Mourning in America” (2021) at the New Museum in New York, after the death of Okwui Enwezor (1963-2019), who conceived the exhibition.

“[Naomi] Beckwith has a long and illustrious track record of championing Black artists and their contributions to the field, so it’s only fitting that we recognize and support her work with the 2024 Driskell Prize.”
— High Museum Director Rand Suffolk

Early on, Beckwith participated in fellowships with the Whitney Museum of American Art’s Independent Study Program and the Institute of Contemporary Art in Philadelphia. Next, she served as an associate curator at the Studio Museum in Harlem, where she established her practice. In 2011, she joined the Museum of Contemporary Art Chicago, rising to senior curator before accepting her current leadership role at the Guggenheim.

Beckwith earned an MA, with Distinction, from the Courtauld Institute of Art in London and received BA in history from Northwestern University in Chicago. Her board affiliations include The Andy Warhol Foundation for the Visual Arts, Laundromat Project, and the advisory committee of the Museum of Contemporary Art Barcelona. In 2014, Beckwith was a member of the Driskell Prize selection committee. She served on the jury of the 56th Venice Biennale in 2015. She has also been a visiting professor at Northwestern University and the School of the Art Institute of Chicago.

THE DAVID C. DRISKELL PRIZE was established in 2005 by artist and scholar David C. Driskell (1931-2020) in collaboration with the High Museum. The influential figure played a critical role in the development and advancement of the field of African American art in the second half of the 20th century. The prize celebrates Driskell’s incredible life, work and, commitment and recognizes the accomplishments of new generations extending his legacy.

Previous winners of the prize include artists Mark Bradford, Amy Sherald, Lyle Ashton Harris, and Rashid Johnson; and curators and scholars Kellie Jones, Valerie Cassel Oliver, Andrea Barnwell Brownlee, Naima J. Keith, and Huey Copeland.

Driskell Prize recipients are identified through a process that begins with a call for nominations from a nationwide pool of selected artists, curators, art historians, teachers, and collectors. A review committee considered these nominations and Beckwith emerged as this year’s winner. The High Museum assembled the four-member committee: Adrienne L. Childs, senior consulting curator at The Phillips Collection in Washington, D.C. (2022 Driskell Prize recipient); Franklin Sirmans, director of the Pérez Art Museum Miami (2007 Driskell Prize recipient); and from the High Museum, Chief Curator Kevin W. Tucker and Maria L. Kelly, assistant curator of photography.

This spring, the 19th annual Driskell Prize Gala will honor Beckwith. Proceeds from the gala benefit the David C. Driskell African American Art Acquisition Restricted and Endowment funds and over the years have helped add 52 works by African American artists to the collection of the High Museum.

“I am equal parts elated and humbled to receive the Driskell Prize,” Beckwith said in a statement. “Previous recipients are my mentors, my models and my inspiration, and I am truly honored to be included in this illustrious cohort and contribute to our shared mission of making the most expansive art history imaginable.” CT


IMAGE: Naomi Beckwith. | Photo by David Heald. © Solomon R. Guggenheim Foundation, New York


Naomi Beckwith has published many volumes. Key among them, she co-authored the exhibition catalogs “Howardena Pindell: What Remains To Be Seen” and “Lynette Yiadom-Boakye: Any Number of Preoccupations,” and co-edited “The Freedom Principle: Experiments in Art and Music, 1965 to Now.” Beckwith also edited the catalog for Duro Olowu’s recent MCA Chicago exhibition “Seeing Chicago” and co-edited the exhibition catalog “Grief and Grievance: Art and Mourning in America (from Civil Rights to Black Lives Matter).” She has also contributed to several volumes, including “Lorna Simpson: Revised & Expanded Edition” (Phaidon Contemporary Artists Series) and “Radical Presence: Black Performance in Contemporary Art.”


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