Charles Gaines, a conceptual artist whose most recent works have taken a turn for the political, has been named the latest recipient of the Edward MacDowell Medal, the MacDowell Colony announced on Sunday.
The annual prize has been awarded since 1960 to creative people seen as having made an outstanding contribution to American culture. It is awarded by the MacDowell Colony for artists in New Hampshire.
“Charles has been a leading figure in the conceptual art movement on the West Coast for more than 40 years,” Ann Philbin, the director of the Hammer Museum in Los Angeles, said in a statement.
Works by Mr. Gaines, who is based in Los Angeles, have been exhibited in New York at the Museum of Modern Art, the Whitney Museum of American Art and the Studio Museum in Harlem. He has become known for politically attuned, conceptual multimedia pieces like “Skybox I,” in which three LED panels displaying historical texts on oppression, colonialism and class gradually transform into what look like stars in deep space, and “Manifesto 2,” an installation that blends atonal music with four revolutionary manifestoes, including ones by Olympe de Gouges and Malcolm X. He has also taught at the influential California Institute of the Arts since 1989.
The panel that awarded Mr. Gaines the MacDowell Medal included Ms. Philbin, as well as the writer Hilton Als; the curator Naima J. Keith; and the artists Barbara Kruger and Arthur Simms. Mr. Simms is also on the board of directors of the MacDowell Colony, which was founded in 1907 by the composer Edward MacDowell and his wife, Marian MacDowell, a pianist.
The colony has provided residencies to thousands of artists and writers, including James Baldwin, Meredith Monk and Taylor Mac. Past recipients of the MacDowell Medal include Robert Frost, Georgia O’Keeffe and Toni Morrison.