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Kobena Mercer, Linda Nochlin, and Calvin Tomkins Awarded Inaugural Clark Prize For Excellence In Arts Writing

For Immediate Release

February 16, 2006

The Sterling and Francine Clark Art Institute today announced that Kobena Mercer, Linda Nochlin, and Calvin Tomkins will receive the inaugural Clark Prize for Excellence in Arts Writing.  The Clark Prize recognizes those writers whose work advances understanding of the world of visual art in a way that is grounded in scholarship yet is meaningful to a diverse range of audiences.

The Clark Prize will be awarded to these three individuals at a ceremony to be held in New York City on May 15, 2006.  The Clark Prize is accompanied by a $25,000 honorarium and an award designed by architect Tadao Ando, who is leading the Clark’s campus expansion project.

The Clark Prize celebrates excellence in arts writing that conveys complex ideas in a manner that is informed, insightful, and accessible. In creating this award, the Clark is helping to raise awareness of the importance of writing that bridges scholarly and popular interest in the arts and seeks to encourage support for this type of writing among publishers, editors, and the public. The Clark Prize also recognizes individuals whose critical or art historical writing has had a significant impact on public appreciation of the visual arts. The evaluation of the nominees is based on a body of work. Individuals engaged in all forms of arts writing are eligible, including criticism, commentary, monographs, catalogue essays, and biography.

“The Clark Prize is a natural extension of the Clark’s dual mission of advancing scholarship while building public appreciation of art,” said Michael Conforti, director of the Clark. “We are pleased to give the inaugural Clark Prize to these distinguished individuals and we celebrate the impact that their work has had on scholars, people interested in the arts, and the public in this country and around the world.”

Kobena Mercer

Kobena Mercer’s work on the politics of representation in the visual arts has opened new paths of critical inquiry and allowed for the entry of new voices into the discourse of visual culture.  Mercer’s critiques and investigations of sexuality and the African Diaspora have made him a leading theorist in identity politics.  And his publications, from anthologies like Art and Its Histories: A Reader to his recent essay “Iconography After Identity,” have helped lead to a view of the arts and culture that is distinctly richer, more diverse, and more globally aware.

Linda Nochlin

Art historian, critic, and curator Linda Nochlin has been a defining voice in feminist art theory and nineteenth-century scholarship for over forty years.  From her groundbreaking monograph on Realism to the revolutionary essay "Why Have There Been No Great Women Artists?" to her contributions to Art in America and her lectures and teaching, Dr. Nochlin has distinguished herself as an indispensable force in art discourse. 

Calvin Tomkins

In his more than half-century as a writer and critic for The New Yorker, Calvin Tomkins has been a prolific contributor of intelligent, influential, and accessible writings on art and artists. His essays and profiles on artists from Marcel Duchamp and Robert Rauschenberg (Off the Wall: Robert Rauschenberg and the Art World of Our Time) to Matthew Barney are clear and timely reports that have aided the general reader to a greater understanding of modern American culture and major avant-garde figures in the arts.

The recipients were selected by a five-member jury including:

  • Iwona Blazwick, Director, Whitechapel Art Gallery
  • Thelma Golden, Director and Chief Curator, The Studio Museum in Harlem
  • David Joselit, Professor of Art History, Yale University
  • Steven Lavine, President, California Institute of the Arts (CalArts)
  • Robert Storr, Professor of Modern Art, Institute of Fine Arts, New York
  • University and Consulting Curator for Modern and Contemporary Art, The Philadelphia Museum of Art

Members of the jury were chosen for their long-standing commitment to the arts and their expertise in the field. Conforti chaired the panel of jurors in a non-voting capacity. The jurors served as both nominators and judges of the recipients. Following its first presentation, the Clark Prize will be awarded every two years to one recipient.

50th Anniversary

The Clark Prize is part of a series of programs and initiatives celebrating the Clark’s 50th anniversary during the 2005-2006 season. This includes The Clark Brothers Collect: Impressionist and Early Modern Paintings from the Collections of Sterling and Stephen Clark, on view from June 4 to September 4, 2006, which will explore the collecting history of founder Sterling Clark and his brother Stephen and present works from their acclaimed collections together for the first time. In addition, the Clark is presenting Collecting the Impressionists: Masterpieces from the Sterling and Francine Clark Art Institute, the first national tour of masterpieces from its permanent collection.

About the Clark

Set amidst 140 acres in the Berkshire hills of western Massachusetts, the Clark is an art museum and a center for research and higher education, dedicated to advancing and extending the public understanding of art. To further its dual mission, the Clark organizes groundbreaking special exhibitions that advance scholarship while building public appreciation of art.

The Clark's research and academic programs include an international fellowship program and regular conferences, symposia, and colloquia, drawing together arts leadership from around the world. The Clark encompasses one of the most comprehensive art history libraries in the world and, together with Williams College, jointly sponsors one of the nation's leading master's programs in art history.

For more information, visit www.clarkart.edu or call 413 458 2303.




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