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Charles Rufus Morey Book Award

The Charles Rufus Morey Book Award, named in honor of one of the founding members of CAA and first teachers of art history in the United States, was established in 1953. This award honors an especially distinguished book in the history of art, published in the English language. Preference is given to books, including catalogues raisonnés, by a single author, but major publications in the form of articles or group studies may be included. Publication of documents or inventories, unless specifically in the context of an exhibition, are also eligible. The 2017 award year covers books published between September 1, 2015, and August 31, 2016.

2016 Winner

Krista Thompson
Shine: The Visual Economy of Light in African Diasporic Aesthetic Practice

In Shine: The Visual Economy of Light in African Diasporic Aesthetic Practice, Krista Thompson explores how the visual economy of light in black urban settings across the circum-Caribbean engages with the politics of visibility within the black diaspora. Through an analysis of lens-based cultural practices of urban youth in the U.S., Jamaica, and the Bahamas, Thompson makes a compelling argument for how diasporic subjects forge a sense of community through visual technologies that cross national boundaries as well as hierarchies of culture. Street photographers in the U.S., videographers and performers in Jamaica’s dance halls, and the elaborately choreographed prom-entrances of teenagers in the Bahamas are situated with respect to the “bling” aesthetics of commercial culture, as well as “high art” production ranging from Dutch still-lives to Seydou Keita’s studio photographs and Kehinde Wiley’s neo-baroque portraits. Thompson argues that the vernacular, commercial, and fine art practices of diasporic subjects both engage and refuse the historical and existing structures that enable and constrain the politics of visibility as a mechanism for emancipation and enfranchisement.

While situated within the growing sub-field of the art history of the black diaspora, Thompson’s book reveals the rich possibilities of visual cultural studies to address the blind-spots of the discipline. And through her focus on light and the aesthetic technologies of “shine” or “bling,” she contributes to the growing interest in photography’s “other histories” within diverse cultural and geographic contexts. Her work reorients the study of photography from an emphasis on the materiality and reproducibility of the image to questions about the immaterial and ephemeral qualities of image making as performative.

Jury: Alan Wallach, The College of William & Mary, chair; Mary Coffey, Dartmouth College; Anne D. Hedeman, The University of Kansas; Yukio Lippit, Harvard University; and David M. Sokol, University of Illinois at Chicago, emeritus.

Past Winners

The first Morey award went to H. W. Janson in 1956 for Apes and Ape Lore in the Middle Ages and the Renaissance. He also received the award again in 1961 for Sculpture of Donatello. A three-time winner, Erwin Panofsky, was recognized for Early Netherlandish Painting (1957), Renaissance and Renascences in Western Art (1964), and Tomb Sculpture (1968). Since then, a wide range of books covering all areas and periods of art history have been awarded, including, most recently, Anthony J. Barbieri-Lo’s Artisans in Early Imperial China (2009), Elizabeth C. Mansfield’s Too Beautiful to Picture: Zeuxis, Myth, and Mimesis (2008), and Peter Selz’s Art of Engagement: Visual Politics in California and Beyond (2007).

Read a list of all winners of the Charles Rufus Morey Book Award from 1956 to the present, as well as a list of finalists from 1996 to the present.

Award Nominations

CAA has begun accepting nominations for the 2017 awards. Please review the guidelines to familiarize yourself with the nomination process and to download, complete, and submit the requested materials. Deadline: July 31, 2016, for the Charles Rufus Morey Book Award, the Alfred H. Barr Jr. Awards, and the Frank Jewett Mather Award; August 31, 2016, for all others.

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