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Distinguished Lifetime Achievement Award for Writing on Art

The Distinguished Lifetime Achievement Award for Writing on Art, established in 2003, celebrates the career of an author of note and includes art criticism, art history, art biography, and/or art theory. The award is presented to an author who, among other distinctions, has demonstrated particular commitment to their work throughout a long career and has had an impact, nationally and internationally, on the field.

2021 WINNERS

Deborah Willis has opened the field of African American photography. When the invention of photography coincided with the promise of abolition, a new arc of aspiration was combined. Its new pictures, thought to be the work of light itself, began to transmit images so that, as Frederick Douglass said, “Men of all conditions may see themselves as others see them.” From the first, photographs and photographic studios proliferated inside the Black community. It is the true extent of this practice that has been revealed by the lifework of Deborah Willis. In effect she has acted as its archaeologist, sifting through the layers from the time of Louis Daguerre to the surface of our present, retrieving the images and researching their histories. 

Willis’s writing calls attention to the contributions of countless unknown and forgotten African American photographers and lived experiences of African Americans; in many ways she has laid the foundation for the significant analyses of Black artists being written today. She writes in words and images, allowing the breadth and specificity of the experience of African Americans to flood readers’ eyes and open their minds to the nuanced and fraught depictions of Black bodies by photographers, both Black and white. Her books, including such notable titles as Reflections in Black: A History of Black Photographers, 1840 to the Present (2000), Posing Beauty: African American Images from the 1890s to the Present (2009), and most recently The Black Civil War Soldier: A Visual History of Conflict and Citizenship (2021) have acted as display cases designed to be viewed by people from all walks of life. Her language has made them equally accessible to specialist and citizen alike. 

and

Kenneth Frampton, trained as an architect, is a prolific architectural historian and critic who has managed to face the behemoth of globalized capital with an enduring version of humane modernity. Frampton has been writing about architecture for over half a century. A model of the architect-scholar, Frampton not only opens new cosmopolitan perspectives on the work of widely influential architects from Le Corbusier and Louis Kahn to Zaha Hadid and Álvaro Siza Vieira with his scholarship but also gives due attention to transitional spaces and movements. 

Frampton’s theorization of the modern tectonic tradition and his articulation of the “critical regionalist” approach in response to postmodernism have been abiding influences on contemporary architectural practice. The formulation of critical regionalism has created a now-indispensable framework for relationships in space and historical time between the political, economic, and environmental dimensions of architectural practice. All of this is put together with rigorous attention to the poetics of materials and construction. His books began with a collaboration in 1965 and continue through monographs beginning in the 1970s, culminating in the magisterial Modern Architecture: A Critical History, first published in 1980, which saw its fifth edition in 2020. An undergraduate once interrupted a class to exclaim, “Isn’t this a terrific textbook!” 

Jury: Shirin Fozi, University of Pittsburgh, chair; Molly Nesbit, Vassar College; Joseph Mascheck, Hofstra University; and Kimberly Musial Datchuk, University of Iowa Stanley Museum of Art. 

PAST WINNERS

Although the Distinguished Lifetime Achievement Award for Writing on Art was established fairly recently, the award juries have honored the writing careers of notable luminaries in the field, including Hans Belting, Oleg Grabar, Georges Didi-Huberman, and John Berger. 

2020 Joseph Leo Koerner   
Jury: Shirin Fozi, University of Pittsburgh, chair; Molly Nesbit, Vassar College; and Joseph Masheck, Hofstra University.  

2019 Molly Nesbit 
Jury: Jelena Bogdanović, Iowa State University, chair; Jongwoo Jeremy Kim, University of Louisville; Anna Novakov, St. Mary’s College of California 

2018 Joseph Masheck
Jury: Jelena Bogdanović, Iowa State University, chair; Anna Novakov, St. Mary’s College of California; and Jongwoo Jeremy Kim, University of Louisville.

2017 This award was not given in 2017.
Jury: Ellen T. Birrell, California Institute of the Arts and X-TRA, chair; Jelena Bogdanović, Iowa State University; and Jongwoo Jeremy Kim, University of Louisville.

2016 Rosalind E. Krauss
Jury: Michael Brenson, Independent Scholar, chair; Ellen T. Birrell, California Institute of the Arts and X-TRA; and Rebecca Zorach, University of Chicago

2015 Lucy R. Lippard
Jury: Michael Brenson, independent scholar, chair; Ellen T. Birrell, California Institute of the Arts; and Rebecca Zorach, University of Chicago.

2014 John Berger
Jury: Thomas Lawson, California Institute of the Arts, chair; Michael Brenson, independent scholar; and Rebecca Zorach, University of Chicago

2013 T. J. Clark
Jury: Catherine Soussloff, University of British Columbia, chair; Lane Relyea, Northwestern University; and Thomas Lawson, California Institute of the Arts

2012 Allan Sekula
Jury: Catherine Soussloff, University of British Columbia, chair; Lane Relyea, Northwestern University; and Thomas Lawson, California Institute of the Arts

2011 Mieke Bal
Jury: Keith Moxey, Barnard College, Columbia University, chair; Lane Relyea, Northwestern University; and Catherine Soussloff, University of British Columbia

2010 Holland Cotter
Jury: Janet Kaplan, Moore College of Art and Design, chair; S. Hollis Clayson, Northwestern University; and Keith Moxey, Barnard College, Columbia University

2009 Georges Didi-Huberman
Jury: Janet Kaplan, Moore College of Art and Design, chair; S. Hollis Clayson, Northwestern University; and Keith Moxey, Barnard College, Columbia University

2008 Robert L. Herbert
Jury: John Beldon Scott, University of Iowa, chair; S. Hollis Clayson, Northwestern University; and Janet Kaplan, Moore College of Art and Design

2007 James Cahill
Jury: John Beldon Scott, University of Iowa, chair; Larry Silver, University of Pennsylvania; and Suzanne Preston Blier, Harvard University

2006 Linda Nochlin
Jury: Katherine Manthorne, Graduate Center, City University of New York, chair; Suzanne Preston Blier, Harvard University Art Museums; John Beldon Scott, University of Iowa; and Larry Silver, University of Pennsylvania

2005 Oleg Grabar
Committee: Katherine Manthorne, Graduate Center, City University of New York, chair; Terrie F. Sultan, Blaffer Gallery, Art Museum of the University of Houston; Larry Silver, University of Pennsylvania; John Beldon Scott, University of Iowa; and Suzanne Preston Blier, Harvard University

2004 Hans Belting
Committee: Jonathan Fineberg, University of Illinois, Urbana-Champaign, chair; Katherine Manthorne, Graduate Center, City University of New York; Katy Siegel, Hunter College, City University of New York; and Terrie Sultan, University of Houston

2003 Robert Farris Thompson
Committee: Jonathan Fineberg, University of Illinois, Urbana-Champaign, chair; Janet Kaplan, Moore College of Art and Design; Katy Siegel, Hunter College, City University of New York; Kenneth E. Silver, New York University; and Terrie Sultan, University of Houston