Jimmie Durham to receive the Golden Lion at the 2019 Venice Biennale

American artist Jimmie Durham inspects a car which was crushed with a six-tonne granite boulder painted with a human face in front of a large crowd at the Sydney Opera House during the Biennale of Sydney. (AFP pic) 

The Venice Biennale announced Thursday that Jimmie Durham will be the recipient of this year’s Golden Lion for Lifetime Achievement.

The American artist was nominated by Ralph Rugoff, the curator of the 58th International Art Exhibition, “May You Live in Interesting Times.”

His recommendation was approved by the biennale’s board of directors, chaired by Paolo Baratta.

In a statement, Rugoff praised Durham for “his remarkable accomplishments as an artist over the past six decades, and in particular for making art that is at once critical, humorous and profoundly humanistic.”

Given that Durham participated in five previous editions of the Biennale, “we should probably be giving him two lifetime awards by this point in time,” the curator added.

In addition to the award, Durham’s work will be included in the Biennale.

Best known for his sculptural constructions, the 78-year-old artist also works in drawing, collage, photography and video. His artworks are often accompanied by texts that confront Eurocentric views and racial prejudice.

As a member of the American Indian Movement, Durham has focused on colonialism and Native American identity in his work.

He identifies as a Cherokee – although his claims of Native heritage were disputed by ten Cherokee artists and curators in 2017.

This year’s Golden Lion will be presented in Venice on May 11. Previous winners include Carolee Schneemann in 2017 and El Anatsui in 2015.