Artist Jim Nutt Wins $25,000 Artists’ Legacy Foundation Award

Nutt and his Hairy Who colleagues have come in for a fresh round of attention lately.

Jim Nutt, Trim, 2010, acrylic on linen with mdf frame. © Jim Nutt; courtesy David Nolan Gallery, New York.

Chicago painter Jim Nutt has won the Artists’ Legacy Foundation’s 2015 Artist Award.

Nutt is perhaps best known for his surreal bust portraits of women, often with improbably large noses and wearing patterned clothing. “They make me think of Northern Renaissance portraits,” Whitney Museum of American Art curator Carter Foster told the New York Times. Born in Pittsfield, Massachusetts, in 1938, Nutt currently lives in Chicago.

The artist, along with Jim Falconer, Art Green, Gladys Nilsson, Suellen Rocca, and Karl Wirsum, formed The Hairy Who in Chicago in the mid-sixties. The loose association of figurative artists were known for highly crafted images that often drew inspiration from low-brow sources and featured scatological and sexual imagery, in strong contrast to the Minimalism that was increasingly praised in New York art circles at the time.

They were later joined by other artists in an informal group known as the Chicago Imagists, also including practitioners like Ed Paschke and Christina Ramberg.

Jim Nutt, Untitled, c. 1966, ink on paper. © Jim Nutt; Courtesy David Nolan Gallery, New York

Jim Nutt, Untitled, c. 1966, ink on paper.
Photo: © Jim Nutt; courtesy David Nolan Gallery, New York.

Nutt and his Hairy Who colleagues have come in for a fresh round of attention lately, with a show at New York’s Matthew Marks Gallery, which is part of a traveling version of an exhibition organized by the Rhode Island School of Design Museum, in Providence. The group is also featured in a recent documentary directed by Leslie Buchbinder.

At auction, Nutt’s works are relatively affordable; his four highest-priced paintings have come to auction in the last two years, for prices ranging from about $200,000 to $450,000 (at Christie’s Paris), according to the artnet Auction Price Database. Nutt’s exclusive US representative is New York’s David Nolan Gallery.

The Artists’ Legacy Foundation, based in Oakland, California, was established in 2000 by painter Squeak Carnwath, her husband Gary Knecht, and sculptor Viola Frey. Past award winners have included ceramic sculptor Kathy Butterly, multimedia artist/musician Llyn Foulkes, painter Dona Nelson, sculptor John Outterbridge, and painter Peter Saul. The 2015 juror panel included Julie Joyce, curator of contemporary art at the Santa Barbara Museum of Art, painter Lucinda Parker, and sculptor Peter Shelton.

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