For his analysis of Los Angeles County Museum of Art's redesign plans, Los Angeles Times’s art critic Christopher Knight has won the 2020 Pulitzer Prize for criticism.
Few awards have gone to art critics in the past 50 years of journalism's top prize, which honored New York's Jerry Saltz in 2018, the Washington Post’s Philip Kennicott in 2013, and the New York Times’s Hilland Cotter in 2009.
The Pulitzer board noted Knight "for demonstrating extraordinary service by a critic, applying his expertise and enterprise to critique a proposed overhaul of the L.A. County Museum of Art and its effect on the institution’s mission.”
While the aesthetics of the new building, designed by Peter Zumthor, had already stirred controversy, Knight offered fresh insights. He brought attention to LACMA's large loss of exhibition space in the new layout, the problem of concrete walls and issues of flow that would affect its function as an art museum.
“The building design was going to have a profound effect on how the campus was going to operate in the future,” Knight said. “No one was discussing that.”
A number of reviews were also cited as Knight's best work, including "Unicorns are just one of the wild rides in the Getty’s marvelous ‘Book of Beasts’."
Knight, 69, was a finalist for the award in 1991, 2001, and 2007. He has also won the $50,000 Rabkin Prize Lifetime Achievement Award (2020) and the College Art Association’s Frank Jewett Mather Award for distinction in art criticism (1997).
Before his career as a journalist, he served as curator at the Museum of Contemporary Art in San Diego and was a consultant to the Lannan Foundation and the Archives of American Art, Smithsonian Institution in Los Angeles.