About the Artist

Sam Durant, the eighteenth recipient of the prestigious Rappaport Prize, works in a variety of media—including painting, sculpture, drawing, and installations— to make connections between history and present ongoing sociocultural debates. He draws inspiration from American history and engages subjects as diverse as the civil rights movement, southern rock music, and modernism. Durant grew up in the Boston area, and exposure to an educational culture emphasizing democratic ideals, racial equality, and social justice created the framework for his artistic perspective.
“We are delighted to award the 2017 Rappaport Prize to Sam Durant,” says deCordova Executive Director John Ravenal. “He has an impressive record of international and solo exhibitions and a substantial history of scholarly and critical attention. His thoughtful and timely exploration of social justice and civil rights aligns perfectly with the Rappaport Foundations’ commitment to a better society through supporting leadership in public policy, medicine, and the arts. And his Boston roots affirm deCordova’s deep engagement with New England artists.”
What does the prize mean to you?
“It is such a wonderful surprise and tremendous honor to be recognized in my home region with the Rappaport Prize,” says Durant. “I am a New Englander to the core—its remarkable history has profoundly shaped and inspired me. The deCordova Museum was a big part of my formation as an artist, and my teacher George Greenamyer's work Mass Art Vehicle at deCordova was one of the first public sculptures I loved.  My work often puts me in the cross hairs of contentious and difficult debates, as it has recently, so deCordova’s acknowledgement is particularly timely—a cool drink of water for a parched soul."
Where is he now?
Born in Seattle in 1961, Sam Durant grew up in Massachusetts and is now based in Los Angeles. He earned a Bachelor’s degree from Massachusetts College of Art in Boston, and a Master of Fine Arts from California Institute of the Arts in Valencia, CA. Durant currently teaches at the California Institute of the Arts in Valencia, CA. Durant’s work has been included in numerous international exhibitions including Documenta 13; the Yokohama Triennial; and the Venice, Sydney, Busan, Liverpool, Panama, and Whitney Biennials. He has had recent solo exhibitions in Los Angeles, London, and Tokyo. His work can be found in a number of public collections, including Fonds National d’Art Contemporain, Paris; UCLA Hammer Museum, Los Angeles; Museum of Modern Art, New York; The Museum of Contemporary Art, Los Angeles; Stedelijk Museum voor Actuele Kunst, Ghent, Belgium; and Tate Modern, London. He is represented by Blum and Poe, Los Angeles; Paula Cooper, New York; Sadie Coles HQ, London; and Praz-Delavallade, Paris. He has recently created major public art projects: Scaffold (2012), installed at the Walker Art Center in 2017 represented gallows used in seven hangings from 1859 to 2006 sanctioned by the U.S. government; Labyrinth (2015) in Philadelphia, PA, addressed mass incarceration; and The Meeting House (2016) in Concord, MA, examined the subject of race in colonial and contemporary New England. In 2012–13 Durant was an artist in residence at the Getty Museum in Los Angeles where he collaborated with the education department to produce a social media project called What #is a museum?