2009 Prizes

Best Book

As there was only one nominated publication, we recommend that this award be held over for a combined 2009-2010 award next year, with additional books sought for consideration.

Best Large Catalogue:

Picasso & His Collection, Arts Exhibitions Australia, Queensland Art Gallery, and Musée national Picasso, Paris

Picasso & His Collection

This catalogue accompanying one of the best exhibitions in Australia during 2008 brings together a number of short but significant essays by Anne Baldassari, Philippe Suneir and André Malraux. The quality of the plates is superb, and they are organised into informative sub-categories which bring into focus the diversity of Picasso’s collection and their potential as sources of influence and inspiration.

Finalist: “Half Light: Portraits from Black Australia”, Hetti Perkins and Jonathan Jones, Art Gallery of New South Wales

The committee was impressed by the way this catalogue had been put together, using an analytical preparatory essay to set the mood for transcribed interviews with the artists and reproductions of their works. This remarkable exhibition—the first major survey of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander artists engaged with photography and portrait—and this ground breaking catalogue that accompanied it make an important contribution to the field.

Best Small Catalogue: “Harold Cazneaux. Artist in Photography”

Natasha Bullock, Art Gallery of New South Wales

Harold Cazneaux. Artist in Photography

“Harold Cazneaux. Artist in Photography” contains superb scholarly essays that will have clear impact in the field. In many ways, the catalogue outstrips its category, as there is nothing ‘small’ about this book. More than a catalogue accompanying an exhibition, this is a comprehensive monograph on the artist that reveals his significance within Australian photographic history. In its tightly focused yet ambitious conception, professional execution and obvious potential for future impact in the field, this book ranks as the best catalogue of the year, small or large.

1st Finalist: “The Labours of Herakles: Marian Maguire”, Essays by Elizabeth Rankin & Patrick O’Sullivan, Papergraphica, 2008

Playing on the convergence of time and cultures found in the artworks of this exhibition, the catalogue pays homage to the content of the art works (a series of lithographs and etchings by Marian Maguire) by associating the catalogue in format and style with that of catalogues which accompanied exhibitions of classical art and antiquities during the second half of the twentieth century. The cleverness of form, however, does not eclipse the obvious scholarly quality of the two essays by Rankin and O’Sullivan. Drawing on the expertise of an art historian and classical scholar, the artist’s sources and understanding of the mythic past of Herakles are marvellously elucidated and combined with nineteenth-century primary source materials. This is a sophisticated publication to be commended.

2nd Finalist: “Once More With Feeling: Ann Shelton”, Natalie Poland, Hocken Collections, University of Otago

This small catalogue captured the spirit of what books in this category should be: pocket sized in format, yet highly informative; easy to carry through and use in the exhibition, but with a life outside the gallery, recalling to memory the exhibition’s content and context in order to provoke further reflection on the ideas raised by works of art. The faux marblised cover, lined pages and photographs give the reader an impression of holding a personal notebook disclosing the artist’s inspirations—specifically that of the scrapbook and palimpsest.

Best Edited Book or Anthology: “Art, Sex and Eugenics. Corpus Delecti”

Edited by Fae Brauer and Anthea Callen

Art, Sex and Eugenics. Corpus Delecti

“Art, Sex and Eugenics. Corpus Delecti”, edited by Fae Brauer and Anthea Callen, stands out as the winner of this year’s best anthology due to the depth of its essays that deal with the curious and disconcerting relationship between eugenics, beauty, aesthetics and social propaganda. The subject had not been properly addressed prior to this volume. Geographically, the essays are expansive in focus—dealing with the art of western and eastern Europe, the Americas and New Zealand—there is much to be learned by reading this book. Beyond what the essays accomplish as individual works of scholarship, as a group in this edited collection they signal the impact of debates around eugenics on art and open up new avenues for future work. This book is everything an edited collection should be.

All three books submitted for consideration in this category were of high quality and notable significance.

“Shifting Views. Selected Essays on the Architectural History of Australia and New Zealand”, edited by Andrew Leach, Antony and Nicole Sully bridges 25 years of scholarship in the field, with essays that provide the reader with an understanding of how the discipline has evolved in recent history, leading to thoughts about future directions for research and critical understanding.

“Antinomies of Art and Culture”, edited by Terry Smith, Okwui Enwezor and Nancy Condee is equally thought provoking as a collection of writings by world-renowned theorists, artists, critics and curators who explore conceptions of the present in art and culture. This is a signifant collection that will no doubt give rise to much talk within the field.

The Judges

Jeanette Hoorn and Jennifer Milam

aaanz journal prize 2009

In considering this issue of the Australian and New Zealand Journal of Art on ‘21st Art History’ we agreed on the difficulty of deciding between at least five very commendable articles within a generally strong field of contributions. Apart from the winners we wish to single out for their merit Rex Butler and A. D. S. Donaldson, “Stay, Go or Come: a History of Australian Art 1920-40”, Melissa Miles, “Focus on the Sun: the Demand for New Myths of Light in Contemporary Australian Photography” and Catherine Speck and Georgina Downey, “Cosmopolitanism and Modernism: On Writing a New Australian Art History”. However, our unanimous decision was that the joint winners should be Jan Baetens, “The Shock of the Past: What we can learn from French Impressionism in Film?” and Huw Hallam, “Globalised Art History: the New Universality and the Question of Cosmopolitanism”. We consider that each exhibited different strengths. The value of Baetens’ article rested in the way its author was able to demonstrate concretely how a new form of historiography could be realised for art history through an elegant and forceful case study on French impressionist cinema and its criticism. The value of Hallam’s article was the high degree of astuteness, trenchancy and balance in its critique of the philosophical underpinnings of universalist histories of art. These and other articles in the issue demonstrate the value of art historians looking outside the narrow confines of the discipline as it has been traditionally defined and gaining insights from other disciplines such as philosophy or literary or film history. We also welcome the tendency towards greater diversity of subjects and periods in the history of art addressed. Finally we applaud the higher consistency in this issue’s system of reference necessary for competition with top ranking international journals in our discipline, but feel that the quality of illustrations and of the journal’s physical binding leaves room for improvement within what are no doubt stringent constraints on cost.


Llewellyn Negrin, University of Tasmania School of Art Richard Read, University of Western Australia (Chair)