2007 Driskell Prize Winner: Franklin Sirmans
Franklin Sirmans is the director of the Pérez Art Museum Miami (PAMM). Prior to taking his position at PAMM, Sirmans was Terri and Michael Smooke Department Head and Curator of Contemporary Art at the Los Angeles County Museum of Art (LACMA) and curator of modern and contemporary art at the Menil Collection in Houston, Texas. He has mounted exhibitions as an independent curator at museums in Europe, Asia and the U.S., including the Bronx Museum of the Arts, Comune di Milano in Italy and the Museum Villa Stuck in Munich.
Some of his notable projects include “Basquiat” (Brooklyn Museum; Museum of Contemporary Art, Los Angeles; and the Museum of Fine Arts, Houston; 2005); “Make it Now: New Sculpture in New York” (Sculpture Center, 2005); “One Planet Under a Groove: Contemporary Art and Hip Hop” (Bronx Museum of Art; Spelman College Museum of Fine Art, Atlanta; and the Walker Art Center, Minneapolis; 2001-2003); and “Ralph Bunche: Diplomat for Peace and Justice” (Queens Museum of Art, 2004).
He has also been a curatorial advisor at PS 1 since February of 2006, and has organized exhibitions such as “Bearable Lightness” and solo presentations of artists including SunTek Chung, Philip Maysles, Curtis Mitchell and Senam Okudzeto. He has taught art history most recently at both Maryland Institute College of Art and Princeton University.
A former U.S. editor of “Flash Art” and editor-in-chief of “ArtAsiaPacific,” Mr. Sirmans has written widely on art and culture for such publications as “Art in America,” “The New York Times,” “Essence” and “Newsweek International.” Sirmans has also contributed monographic essays for catalogues on artists including Kevin ei-Ichi DeForest, Kehinde Wiley, Gajin Fujita, Wendell Gladstone and David Hammons.
Born in New York City in 1969, Sirmans was raised in Harlem, Albany and New Rochelle, New York. He earned English and Art History degrees from Wesleyan University, where he wrote his honors thesis on the artist Jean-Michel Basquiat.