Trim, 2010, acrylic on linen with MDF frame, 25 3/8 x 24 3/8 inches, © Jim Nutt. Courtesy David Nolan Gallery, New York
Drawing for Trim, 2008, graphite on paper, 15 x 14 inches, © Jim Nutt. Courtesy David Nolan Gallery, New York
Plumb, 2004, acrylic on linen with MDF frame, 26 3/8 x 25 3/8 inches, © Jim Nutt. Courtesy David Nolan Gallery, New York

Unrestricted gift of $25,000 given to an accomplished painter or sculptor where evidence of the hand is a significant factor in making art.

OAKLAND, CALIFORNIA—Artists’ Legacy Foundation is pleased to announce that Jim Nutt, the Chicago painter and draftsman, is the recipient of its 2015 Artist Award. The Artist Award is an unrestricted gift of $25,000 given to an accomplished painter or sculptor where evidence of the hand is a significant factor in making art. Since its inception in 2007, the Award has been juried by a distinguished list of thinkers and makers.

In the late 1990s, painter Squeak Carnwath and community advocate Gary Knecht envisioned a foundation centered on painters and sculptors encouraging fellow artists; protecting the legacies of deceased “Legacy Artists”; and supporting the visual arts. As plans advanced, colleague, friend and groundbreaking sculptor Viola Frey joined in and in 2000, the three incorporated Artists’ Legacy Foundation. After Frey’s death in 2004, her bequest made possible the Artist Award program.

Each year painters and sculptors are anonymously nominated for the Award and candidates are unaware that they are under consideration. Nominators and jurors are art world peers with a depth of expertise in their fields. The 2015 panel of jurors included: Curator of Contemporary Art at Santa Barbara Museum of Art and 2015 Visiting Scholar at American Academy of Rome Julie Joyce, Painter Lucinda Parker and Sculptor Peter Shelton.

“Shocked. I was taken aback,” confessed Jim Nutt (b. 1938), after receiving news that he is the recipient of the 2015 Artist Award. Nutt said he may use a portion of the Award to underwrite the organization of his earlier work and career-related archival material and travel to Berlin and Hamburg, for the first time in his life, to view early 19th Century German paintings.

Nutt is noted for his intricate and psychological portraits of imaginary women. His dense, angular compositions are painstakingly hand made and reflect a formal interest in the face. Ken Johnson of The New York Times has called Nutt “a supremely elegant and inventive stylist.” David Ebony, writing in Art in America, remarked on the “sculptural solidity” of the nose, lips and chins in Nutt’s absorbing, grotesque character-driven acrylic paintings and pencil drawings. In 2011, the Museum of Contemporary Art Chicago presented an acclaimed solo retrospective of the last 20 years of Nutt’s work. Ted Loos of The New York Times quoted Museum of Contemporary Art Curator Lynne Warren’s assertion that Nutt is “an artist’s artist.”

“Dangerous and glorious at the same time – like a fist in your face,” said juror Parker.

“A kind of intensity and violence,” said Shelton. “There is a graphic clarity in his hand painted work – and Pop, Cubism and Folk.”

“His reinvention of the portrait is quirky, determined and bracing,” said Joyce. “Nutt is a particularly apt choice for the Artist Award. Not only is he an accomplished and deserving artist in his own right, but he has advocated the work of other artists throughout his career. The ethos of Artists’ Legacy Foundation – artists helping artists – carries throughout Nutt’s work as an influential artist as well as a catalyst for other artists.

The Artist Award is designed to encourage professional enrichment, while allowing recipients to spend more creative time in their studios. There are no restrictions on the use of the funds by the recipient. Highly regarded painter Mary Weatherford, noted for her emotionally charged and atmospheric Flashe on linen works that incorporate neon lighting tubes, received the 2014 Artist Award.


Born in Pittsfield, Massachusetts, Jim Nutt lives and works in Chicago. He graduated from the School of the Art Institute of Chicago in 1965. The Hairy Who collective received its first exhibition at Hyde Park Art Center in Chicago in 1966 and in 1974 Nutt had a major museum exhibition at Museum of Contemporary Art, Chicago that traveled to the Walker Art Center, Minneapolis and the Whitney Museum of American Art, New York. His work has been the subject of solo exhibitions at Museum of Contemporary Art, Chicago; Hanes Gallery, Scales Fine Arts Center, Wake Forest University, North Carolina; Milwaukee Art Museum; Henry Art Gallery, Seattle; National Museum of American Art, Washington, D.C.; Contemporary Arts Center, Cincinnati; and elsewhere. His group exhibitions include shows such as Exquisite Corpses: Drawing and Disfiguration, The Museum of Modern Art, New York; 1969, P.S. 1 Contemporary Art Center, Long Island City; Disparities and Deformities: Our Grotesque, Site Santa Fe; and Open Ends, Museum of Modern Art, New York. The artist is represented by David Nolan Gallery.