Alfred H. Barr Jr. Award
The Alfred H. Barr Jr. Award for museum scholarship was established in 1980, in honor of the founding director of the Museum of Modern Art and a scholar of early-twentieth-century painting. This award is presented to the author or authors of an especially distinguished catalogue in the history of art, published in the English language under the auspices of a museum, library, or collection. Catalogues of public or private collections or significant portions thereof and exhibition catalogues are eligible. The 2013 award year covers catalogues published between September 1, 2011, and August 31, 2012.
In 2009, CAA established a second Barr award for the author(s) of catalogues produced by smaller museums, libraries, and collections with an annual operating budget of less than $10 million dollars, or by smaller exhibitions within larger museums.
The exhibition catalogue for Ends of the Earth: Land Art to 1974 (Los Angeles: Museum of Contemporary Art, 2012) presents a stimulating, long-overdue scholarly assessment of this international phenomenon. Wresting the history of Land art from its ossified foundations and courageously bringing an unruly topic into clear focus, the curator Philipp Kaiser and the scholar Miwon Kwon join forces to produce this appropriately expansive, decidedly revelatory, and eminently readable publication. Through scholarly essays, interviews, a checklist, and photodocumentation, Ends of the Earth remaps the geography of the movement, proposing that sites international and urban were as critical to Earthworks as the desert landscapes of the American Southwest, leaving as a trace of its labors a sturdy, earthy catalogue that serves as a further “non-site” for the resolutely uncontainable projects that redefined aesthetic practice in the 1960s and 1970s and that resonate anew in our ecologically challenged times.
Edited by Joanne Pillsbury, Miriam Doutriaux, Reiko Ishihara-Brito, and Alexandre Tokovinine, Ancient Maya Art at Dumbarton Oaks (Washington, DC: Dumbarton Oaks Research Library and Collection, 2012) represents a substantial and long-lasting scholarly and publishing achievement. It is also a highly readable reference work, offering insight into the traditions of sculpture, ceramics, jade, and painting of the Maya cultures of ancient America. The volume, one in a series documenting Precolumbian art at Dumbarton Oaks, meticulously catalogues nearly one hundred works and features scholarly essays addressing the formation of the collection by Robert Woods Bliss and providing background to Maya civilization and the role of ritual objects in its politics, religion, and society. With contributions by nineteen specialists, Ancient Maya Art at Dumbarton Oaks is a model of scholarly collaboration in which different voices echo the variety of objects and ensure the most recent knowledge, particularly regarding advances in epigraphy and subsequent reinterpretations. That the roster of scholars includes not only American curators, professors, and archeologists, but also experts from Guatemala and Mexico, reflects a new level of international cooperation in this sometimes-contentious territory.
CAA gave the first Barr award to Kurt Weitzmann, Margaret English Frazer, et al. in 1981 for Age of Spirituality: Late Antique and Early Christian Art, Third to Seventh Century, the catalogue for an exhibition held at the Metropolitan Museum of Art in New York in 1979. Many more award-winning catalogues produced at that museum followed, including four of the last eight.
Publications for exhibitions held at many other institutions nationwide have been recognized by CAA for their excellence, including The Blood of Kings: Dynasty and Ritual in Maya Art at the Kimbell Art Museum (1988), “Degenerate Art”: The Fate of the Avant-Garde in Nazi Germany at the Los Angeles County Museum of Art (1993), and Metropolitan Lives: The Ashcan Artists and Their New York at the National Museum of American Art (1997).
CAA has begun accepting nominations for the two 2014 Alfred H. Barr Jr. Awardss.