Philanthropist Alice Walton, artist Martin Puryear, and scholar Kwame Anthony Appiah are to receive the 2020 Getty Medal, the J. Paul Getty Trust’s highest honor, recognizing contributions to the arts and humanities.

Alice Walton is a philanthropist dedicated to illuminating American art and to expanding access to the arts and arts education. Martin Puryear is one of today’s most influential sculptors, with powerful work that expresses a respect for and mastery of craft traditions from all over the world. And through his scholarship, thought leader Kwame Anthony Appiah deepens our understanding of identity and cosmopolitanism, helping to define what it means to be a citizen of the world.

Alice Walton wears a red jacket and large-framed glasses

Alice Walton

Alice Walton

Walton founded the Crystal Bridges American Art Museum in Bentonville, Arkansas, in 2011.

“Through her vast and generous philanthropy, Alice Walton has advanced our understanding and appreciation of American art, increased access to art in communities across the country, and emphasized the importance of diversity on museum boards,” said James Cuno, president of the J. Paul Getty Trust. “Her work on behalf of both the arts and healthcare stem from her deep commitment to improving people’s lives.”

Martin Puryear stands in front of a a wrought-iron door, wearing a white shirt with a black jacket, and thin-rimmed glasses.

Martin Puryear. Photo: Francesca Bottazzin

Martin Puryear

Puryear’s sculpture has been recognized over fifty years for its abstract organic forms.

“Martin Puryear’s powerful hand-crafted sculpture delves deeply into African American history, while reflecting global influences in craft and material,” Cuno said. “His work combines traditional techniques with timeless cultural references. He inspires us every day with That Profile, his towering work at the Getty Center.”

Appiah stands outside wearing a pinstripe suit with a red tie

Kwame Anthony Appiah

Kwame Anthony Appiah

Kwame Anthony Appiah is a professor of law and philosophy at New York University and an ethics columnist for the New York Times Magazine.

“Anthony Appiah’s writings on culture and identity are of the greatest importance as we confront increasing populism and ethnic nationalism in our daily lives,” Cuno said. “It is for this reason, and the intellectual elegance of his scholarship, that we are honored to bestow upon him the Getty’s highest honor.”

The Getty Medal awards will be presented in September at the Morgan Library in New York City. Medalist nominations are reviewed and awardees determined by the J. Paul Getty Trust Board of Trustees.

Established in 2013, the Getty Medal has previously been awarded to fourteen distinguished individuals, including Mary Beard, Nancy Englander, Frank Gehry, Thelma Golden, Agnes Gund, Ellsworth Kelly, Anselm Kiefer, Mario Vargas Llosa, Yo-Yo Ma, Lord Jacob Rothschild, Ed Ruscha, Richard Serra, Lorna Simpson, and Harold Williams.