Los Angeles Times art critic Christopher Knight wins Pulitzer prize

Writer was recognised for his criticism of Lacma’s controversial expansion plan

Christopher Knight courtesy of the Pulitzer Prize Foundation

The Los Angeles Times art critic Christopher Knight has been awarded the 2020 Pulitzer Prize (criticism) for his analyses of the $650m-dollar extension planned for the Los Angeles County Museum of Art (Lacma). His columns lambasting the museum’s expansion plan, spearheaded by the architect Peter Zumthor, were commended for “demonstrating extraordinary community service”, say the prize officials.

Under Zumthor’s plan, four structures on the museum’s campus are due to be levelled to make way for a one-storey structure spanning Wilshire Boulevard scheduled to open in 2024. But critics say that gallery space at the museum will shrink by as much as 33%. Other commentators defend the plan, such as Michael Conforti who says that Lacma is building an institution for the 21st century.

In a Los Angeles Times article dated 1 April, Knight points out that “within weeks, the County Board of Supervisors is expected to vote on releasing $117.5m in taxpayer funds to help build a much-needed new home for the imposing permanent collection at the Los Angeles County Museum of Art…. the scheme is to reduce the existing gallery square footage by more than 10,000 square feet… Lacma has become the Incredible Shrinking Museum.”

The 2020 jury—which included opinion section editor Terry Tang of the Los Angeles Times—said that Knight had applied his “expertise and enterprise to critique a proposed overhaul of the LA County Museum of Art and its effects on the institution’s mission”. Knight previously worked as a curator at the Museum of Contemporary Art in San Diego.

Previous art critic recipients of the Pulitzer Prize, worth $15,000, include Jerry Saltz (2018), Jen Graves (2014), Philip Kennicott (2013), and Holland Cotter (2009).