Brendan Gill Prize

Established in 1987 in honor of Brendan Gill, renowned New Yorker theater and architecture critic and long-time MAS Board Member

The Brendan Gill Prize is given each year to the creator of a specific work—a book, essay, musical composition, play, painting, sculpture, architectural design, film, or choreographic piece—that best captures the spirit and energy of New York City.

The prize was established in 1987 in honor of Brendan Gill by friend and fellow MAS board member Jacqueline Kennedy Onassis along with board members Helen Tucker and Margot Wellington.

Join MAS at Museum of the Moving Image (MoMI) on Wednesday, September 21, 2022 as we celebrate the winner of the Brendan Gill Prize! This year, we are thrilled to recognize filmmaker John Wilson for his HBO television series, How To with John Wilson.

At this in-person ceremony, we will be joined by Wilson and members of the Brendan Gill Prize Jury for an engaging conversation about the show, which captures the spirit and unique characters of New York City.

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  • Brendan Gill, Arthur Ross, and Kent Barwick at party
    Left to right: Brendan Gill, Arthur Ross, and Kent Barwick (1988)
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  • 2020 Brendan Gill Prize winner: Julia Wolfe for "Fire in my mouth." Photo by Chris Lee.
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  • still from the movie Crime and Punishment, characters walk in a group
    2019 Brendan Gill Prize winner: Stephen Maing for "Crime + Punishment." Movie still courtesy of Stephen Maing.
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  • 2018 Brendan Gill Prize winner: Julia Wertz for "Tenements, Towers & Trash: An Unconventional Illustrated History of New York City." Image courtesy of Julia Wertz.
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  • 2017 Brendan Gill Prize winner: Matthew “Levee” Chavez for Subway Therapy. Photo by Wikimedia Commons, Allison Meier. Modifications: photo cropped.
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2021 Brendan Gill Prize Jury

John Haworth (Brendan Gill Prize Jury Chair), Senior Executive Emeritus, National Museum of the American Indian/NY, Smithsonian Institution
Randall Bourscheidt, Director, Archive of New York City Cultural Policy
Roz Chast, Cartoonist & Author, The New Yorker
Patricia Cruz, Artistic Director and CEO, Harlem Stage
Gail Gregg, Artist and Journalist
Cassim Shepard, Urbanist, Filmmaker, and Author
Laurie Beckelman, Not-for-Profit Consultant

Recipients

2021

John Wilson, “How To with John Wilson”

2020

Julia Wolfe, Fire in my mouth

Special Recognition Honoree: Gabrielle Bendiner-Viani, Contested City: Art & Public History as Mediation at New York’s Seward Park Urban Renewal Area

Special Recognition Honoree: Thomas J. Campanella, Brooklyn: The Once and Future City

Special Recognition Honoree: Stanley Greenberg, CODEX New York; Typologies of the City

Special Recognition Honoree: Eric K. Washington, Boss of the Grips: The Life of James H. Williams and the Red Caps of Grand Central Terminal

2019

Stephen Maing, Crime + Punishment

2018

Melissa Rachleff, Inventing Downtown: Artist–Run Galleries in New York City, 1952-1965

Julia Wertz, Tenements, Towers, & Trash: An Unconventional Ilustrated History of New York

2017

Rebecca Solnit and Joshua Jelly-Schapiro, Nonstop Metropolis: A New York City Atlas

Matthew “Levee” Chavez, Subway Therapy

2016

Lin-Manuel Miranda, Alex Lacamoire, Thomas Kail, and Andy Blankenbuehler, Hamilton: An American Musical

Frederick Wiseman, Inside Jackson Heights

2015

Kara Walker, A Subtlety, or the Marvelous Sugar Baby; an Homage to the unpaid and overworked Artisans who have refined our Sweet tastes from the cane fields to the Kitchens of the New World on the Occasion of the demolition of the Domino Sugar Refining Plant

2014

Michael Kimmelman, The New York Times articles on Penn Station

2013

Louis Kahn (posthumously), Four Freedoms Park

2011

John Morse, Curbside Haiku

2010

Michael Van Valkenburgh, Brooklyn Bridge Park

2009

Mike and Doug Starn, See it change, see it split

2008

Sufjan Stevens, The BQE

2007

Sarah Jones, Bridge & Tunnel

2006

Christo and Jeanne-Claude, The Gates, Central Park

2005

Yoshio Taniguchi, The new Museum of Modern Art

2004

Adrian Nicole LeBlanc, Random Family

Warren Lehrer and Judith Sloan, Crossing the BLVD: Strangers, Neighbors, Aliens in a New America

2003

John Bennett, Gustavo Bonevardi, Richard Nash Gould, Julian LaVerdiere, Paul Marantz, and Paul Myoda, Tribute in Light

2002

Tod Williams Billie Tsien and Associate, American Folks Art Museum

Alice Rose George, Gilles Peress, Michael Shulan, and Charles Traub, Here is New York exhibit

2001

Christopher Wheeldon, Mercurial Manoeuvres

Honorable Mention: MTA Arts for Transit, For Want of a Nail

2000

Mauren Hackett, Herald and Greeley Square Parks

Honorable Mention: Allison Prete, Lavender Lake: Brooklyn’s Gowanus Canal

Honorable Mention: John Kuo Wie Then, New York Before Chinatown 

1999

Edwin G. Burrows and Mike Wallace, Gotham

Honorable Mention: Phillip Lopate, Writing New York: A Literary Anthology

1998

Frederick Fisher, P.S. 1 Contemporary Art Center

Honorable Mention: Susan Tunick and Peter Mauss, Terra Cotta Skyline

Honorable Mention: Milo Mottola, Riverbank State Park Carousel

1997

George C. Wolfe and Savion Glover, Bring in da Noise, Bring in da Funk

1996

Hugh Hardy, New York Victory Theatre

1995

Louis Malle and André Gregory, Vanya on 42nd Street

1994

Ang Lee, The Wedding Banquet

1993

Joseph Mitchell, Up in the Old Hotel

1992

John Yau and Bill Barrette, Big City Primer: Reading New York at the End of the Twentieth Century

1991

David Hammons, High Falutin’

1990

Gran Fury, Kissing Doesn’t Kill; Greed and Indifference Do

1989

Kevin Roche, Central Park Zoo

1988

Rudolph Burckhardt, film series at the Museum of Modern Art

guide leads a tour group and holds a Municipal Art Society of New York sign

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logo for the Brendan Gill Prize
1987

Establishing the Brendan Gill Prize

MAS establishes the annual Brendan Gill Prize, which honors the creator of a specific work of art produced in the previous year that best captures the spirit and energy of New York City. The inaugural prize is given to Rudolph Burckhardt for a film series at MoMA.

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