Smithsonian awards Eldredge Prize to author, art historian Wilson

The Smithsonian American Art Museum has awarded the 2011 Charles C. Eldredge Prize for Distinguished Scholarship in American Art to Kristina Wilson, Clark University associate professor of art history, for her book “The Modern Eye: Stieglitz, MoMA and the Art of Exhibition, 1925-1934(Yale University Press, 2009). It is recognized as a “new and excellent interpretation of the success of modern art in America.”

* Update: To view a video of Wilson's lecture, click here. *

“I am delighted that the jurors have chosen to honor Kristina Wilson, whose examination of exhibitions in the 1920s and 1930s offers insights into the way museums and the public received modern art,” said Elizabeth Broun, director of the Smithsonian American Art Museum, in Washington, D.C.

“Wilson has written a significant book with a clear argument, articulated throughout with graceful writing that is accessible to the general reader. Her fluent exposition of a well-researched, original interpretation of Americans’ ‘Modern Eye’ is an outstanding contribution to the field,” wrote the jurors, who awarded the $3,000 prize.

Wilson is associate professor of art history in the Visual & Performing Arts Department at Clark University. She received a doctorate in the history of art from Yale University in 2001. Her research interests include painting, photography and design in the United States during the period between 1918 and 1939 and the history and criticism of museums. In addition to “The Modern Eye,” she also is the author of Livable Modernism: Interior Decorating and Design During the Great Depression” (Yale University Press, 2004), which accompanied an exhibition at the Yale University Art Gallery. It won the Charles F. Montgomery Award from the Decorative Arts Society in 2006. She has contributed articles and reviews to a wide variety of publications, including journals such as The Art Bulletin, Winterthur Portfolio and the Journal of the Society of Architectural Historians, and exhibition catalogs at the Rhode Island School of Design Museum, the National Building Museum and the Milwaukee Art Museum.

On Thursday, Nov. 10, at 4 p.m., Wilson will present the annual Eldredge Prize lecture in the  Smithsonian American Art Museum’s Nan Tucker McEvoy Auditorium.  A reception follows the event, which is free and open to the public.

Wilson resides in Worcester.

The Eldredge Prize, named in honor of the former director of the museum (1982-1988), is sponsored by the American Art Forum, a patrons’ support organization. This annual award, initiated in 1989, seeks to recognize originality and thoroughness of research, excellence of writing and clarity of method. Single-author, book-length publications in the field of American art history appearing within the three previous calendar years are eligible.

Recent Eldredge Prize recipients include Kirk Savage (2010) for his book “Monument Wars: Washington, D.C., the National Mall, and the Transformation of the Memorial Landscape” (University of California Press, 2009), and Cécile Whiting (2009) for her book “Pop L.A.: Art and the City in the 1960s” (University of California Press, 2006). A complete list of past winners is available on the museum’s website at americanart.si.edu/research/awards/eldredge.

The museum’s research programs include fellowships for pre- and postdoctoral scholars, extensive photographic collections documenting American art and artists, and unparalleled art research databases. An active publications program of books, catalogs and the journal American Art complements the museum’s exhibitions and educational programs.

The Smithsonian American Art Museum celebrates the vision and creativity of Americans with artworks in all media spanning more than three centuries. Website: americanart.si.edu.