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11th Annual Eldredge Prize Awarded for New Interpretation of 1960s American Art

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Dr. Caroline Jones, assistant professor of contemporary art and criticism at Boston University, has been awarded the 1999 Charles C. Eldredge Prize by the Smithsonian's American Art Museum. She is recognized for her recent book Machine in the Studio: Constructing the Postwar American Artist (University of Chicago Press, 1997), an outstanding example of scholarship which reinterprets the cultural climate of the American art scene during the 1960s.

Jones argues that the artists she examines identified closely with postwar industry and corporate culture. Drawing from extensive interviews with artists and their assistants, Jones presents the idea that much of the major work of the 1960s was compelling precisely because it was rooted in the industrial culture of its time. The gap between the public perception of the art of this period versus real studio practices of the time first drew Jones to her subject.

Jones explores, through the careers of three mainstream artists of the 1960s, how the model of the solitary individual artist toiling in semi-sacred studio space changed after World War II. Frank Stella cultivated identities as both a humble painter-worker and an executive artist in a three-piece suit. Working out of his Factory studio, Andy Warhol responded to a postwar climate conditioned by advertising and crisp cultural icons. Robert Smithson debunked the sanctity of the studio even further by choosing instead to work directly in the environment.

Author of numerous articles and papers, director and producer of films, and an experienced lecturer, Jones is director of Boston University's museum studies program. She received a bachelor's degree in art history from Harvard and an M.F.A. from the Institute of Fine Arts at New York University, concentrating on art of the 20th century. She completed her doctorate at Stanford, where she was awarded several fellowships, and was also a junior fellow with the Boston University Humanities Foundation.

"Jones's reinterpretation of the 1960s offers a very different and potentially very productive re-reading of a critical period in American art," the Eldredge Prize jurors wrote in their decision announcement. The three jurors who awarded the $2,000 prize were: Linda Ferber, chief curator of American paintings and sculpture at the Brooklyn Museum of Art; Michael Leja, associate professor of art history in the department of architecture at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology; and Bruce Robertson, chairman of the department of the history of art and architecture at the University of California, Santa Barbara.

The Charles C. Eldredge Prize for Distinguished Scholarship in American Art, named in honor of the former director of the museum (1982–88), is sponsored by the American Art Forum, a patrons' support organization. This annual award 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 in the three previous calendar years are eligible. It is especially meant to honor those authors who deepen or focus debates in the field or who broaden the discipline by reaching beyond traditional boundaries.

Recent Eldredge Prize recipients include:


1998: Sarah Burns, Inventing the Modern Artist: Art and Culture in Gilded Age America (Yale 1996).

1997: Sue Rainey, Creating Picturesque America: Monument to the Natural and Cultural Landscape (Vanderbilt 1994).

1996: Michael Leja, Reframing Abstract Expressionism: Subjectivity and Painting in the 1940s (Yale 1993).

For information about the 2000 Eldredge Prize, please write Research and Scholars Center, Smithsonian American Art Museum, Washington, D.C. 20560. The deadline for nominations is December 1, 1999.

The Smithsonian American Art Museum, the first federal art collection, is located in the Old Patent Office Building at Eighth and G Streets, N.W. in Washington, D.C. above the Gallery Place Metrorail station. Museum hours are from 10 a.m. to 5:30 p.m. daily (closed December 25). Admission is free. For more information, call (202) 357-2700; (202) 786-2393 (TTY); (202) 633-9126 (Spanish recording).