2010 Prizes

Best Book: “An Apprehensive Aesthetic: The Legacy of Modernist Culture”

Andrew McNamara, Peter Lang, Bern, 2009

An Apprehensive Aesthetic: The Legacy of Modernist Culture

The judges were won over by this thoughtful, carefully argued account of the emergence of modernism and its persistence over the last century. In an impressive investigation of his theme of apprehension and aesthetics, McNamara confronts the perplexing social and cultural aspirations of the art that dominated criticism over the twentieth century and its legacy into the new millennium.

Best Large Catalogue: “The Golden Journey: Japanese Art from Australian Collections”

James Bennett and Amy Reigle Newland, Art Gallery of South Australia

Best Large Catalogue: “Cubism and Australian Art”

Lesley Harding and Sue Cramer, Heide Museum of Art

The Golden Journey: Japanese Art from Australian Collections Cubism and Australian Art

The judges were confronted with a daunting task in awarding the best catalogue prize with an unusually large and strong field this year. After lengthy discussion the judges awarded two outstanding catalogues the award for 2010 giving the prize to the Art Gallery of South Australia’s “The Golden Journey: Japanese Art from Australian Collections” and “Cubism and Australian Art” published by the Miegunyah Imprint of Melbourne University Publishing. Both catalogues represented the fruits of several years of intensive work by the curators, presenting large survey exhibitions of significant themes that had not been previously presented in Australia before.

James Bennett and Amy Reigle Newland’s “The Golden Journey” brought together major Japanese painting held in a range of Australian collections producing important new research on national patronage of Japanese art and bringing to light the depth of Japanese material held in this country. The scholarly commentary and rich production values convinced the judges that this volume is indeed a worthy recipient of the prize of best catalogue.

Lesley Harding and Sue Cramer’s “Cubism and Australian Art”, from Heide Museum of Art, presented an equally important milestone in the historiography of Australian Art. Many years in the making, this exhibition presented a stunning survey of Australian Cubist art, demonstrating once again that Modernist art produced outside Europe and America is as vibrant and complex as the art of the centre. Drawing together the writing of many specialists and curators, this catalogue will be an essential reference work in the field for scholars and the general public alike. The judges congratulate the teams associated with the production of both of these outstanding catalogues.

Highly Commended

The judges also wish to commend two catalogues from New Zealand. David Cross and Claire Dougherty, for drawing together an impressive team of writers and artists who produced the interesting and innovative exhibition and catalogue “One Day Sculpture” which toured the North and South Island of New Zealand.

In addition, they congratulate Felicity Milburn and Lara Strongman et al from Christchurch Art Gallery for their catalogue and exhibition on the work of the New Zealand painter Séraphine Pick. Brilliantly produced and well written, this catalogue brings forward the work of a gifted artist working in a currently emerging new global surreal style.

Best Small Catalogue: “The Sleeping Room”

Natalie Poland, Hocken Collections at the University of Otago

The Sleeping Room

“The Sleeping Room” captivated the attention of the judges, who felt that the small-format catalogue evidences all the best traits of a book in this category. It is a portable, engaging and evocative memoir of the exhibition of Helen Straka’s ‘Life Still’ paintings in the Hocken Collections at the University of Otago. The short yet informative essay by curator Natalie Poland perfectly complements Straka’s ghostly images, both in content and design.

Highly Commended

The judges would also like to commend “GBA: Print Publishing in the Gazette des Beaux-Arts. 1859-1933”, a small catalogue produced by the Adam Art Gallery at the Victoria University of Wellington. As teacher, curator and editor, David Maskill has shown the quality of exhibition catalogue that can be achieved through research-led teaching in a museum context.

The Judges: Jeanette Hoorn and Jennifer Milam

Best Edited Book or Anthology: “Fashion: Critical and Primary Sources. Late Medieval to Renaissance” (4 volumes)

Peter McNeil, Berg, Oxford and New York, 2009

As with the Best Large Catalogue this year, the judges were encouraged by the extraordinary quality of entries in this category. Several major volumes were put forward which represent diverse fields of international scholarship notable for their interdisciplinary approaches. This year the sheer wealth and breadth of scholarship of the anthologies has made the task of judging particularly challenging complicated by entries that encompass such diverse fields. For that reason we have chosen to highly commend two edited books, both of which bring new and original scholarship to focus on major fields of enquiry, along with high production values, useful indexes and wonderful covers: ‘Photography Degree Zero: Reflections on Roland Barthes’s Camera Lucida’, edited by Geoffrey Batchen and published by MIT Press can rightfully claim to reopen the conversation on Barthes’ most influential 1980 text, by introducing a new generation of scholars to interpret and interrogate such intellectual heavyweights as Michael Fried, Victor Burgin and Rosalind Krauss; and ‘Reframing Darwin: Evolution and Art in Australia’ edited by Jeanette Hoorn, is a beautifully produced set of essays of original research by key experts in the field published by the wonderful Miegunyah Press at the University of Melbourne that makes a book into a beautiful object.

The judges noted two significant themes in the submissions this year: the art history of Charles Darwin’s anniversary and the relatively new field of fashion histories. ‘Reframing Darwin’ is just one of the excellent submissions in the former category. In the latter category the judges noted the high quality of new work in the field and would like to present the award of Best Edited book to Peter McNeil’s 4-volume Fashion: Critical and Primary Sources. This monumental contribution to fashion history spans the late medieval to modern period. It is the result of a Herculean effort of scholarship, which will undoubted change the way that the field is understood by specialists and taught to future generations of scholars.

The Judges: Anne Stephen and Jennifer Milam