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Press Room


13th Annual Eldredge Prize Awarded for Pioneering Look at Joseph Cornell and the Cinema

Contact: Smithsonian American Art Museum's Public Affairs Office AmericanArtinfo[at]
American Art's Web site:
Recorded information: (202) 633-8998

The Smithsonian American Art Museum has awarded the 2001 Charles C. Eldredge Prize for Distinguished Scholarship in American Art to Dr. Jodi Hauptman, assistant professor in the department of art history at the University of Delaware. Her recent book Joseph Cornell: Stargazing in the Cinema (Yale University Press, 1999) is recognized as an outstanding example of art historical scholarship and a landmark study of Cornell's portraits and his "cinematic imagination."

"[Hauptman's] subtle and layered readings of Cornell's works are informed by deep knowledge of the art and cultural history of the period and by intimate familiarity with Cornell's extensive writings and work," the Eldredge Prize jurors wrote in their decision. "The rich and complex arguments and interpretations developed in the book are presented in an extraordinarily accessible and engaging style."

The three jurors who awarded the $2,000 prize were: Erika Doss, professor in the department of fine arts at the University of Colorado; Michael Leja, Sewell Biggs professor of American art at the University of Delaware; and Kenneth Myers, assistant curator of American Art for the Smithsonian's Arthur M. Sackler Gallery and Freer Gallery of Art.

"Professor Hauptman's imaginative study of Joseph Cornell's portraits is a delight to read and is an important addition to the growing body of scholarship that examines his work," said Elizabeth Broun, the museum's Margaret and Terry Stent Director.

"Jodi Hauptman tackles Joseph Cornell's poetic complexity through the lens of his extraordinary passion for the cinema and its galaxy of stars," said Lynda Roscoe Hartigan, chief curator at the museum. "Her navigation of his ideas and imagery deftly leads the reader on a journey to deeper insights."

Joseph Cornell: Stargazing in the Cinema examines, for the first time, the artist's "portrait-homages" of Hollywood screen stars Hedy Lamarr, Lauren Bacall, Greta Garbo and Marilyn Monroe, among others. The book opens with a discussion of Cornell's 1946 exhibition "The Romantic Museum: Portraits of Women." Subsequent chapters examine how Cornell's portraits were inspired by the personality and movie roles of each actress. Hauptman positions the artist as a surrealist and an historian and explores wide-ranging issues such as the depiction of the female body, vision and unfulfilled desire, the modern urban wanderer or flaneur and the allure of the cinema. She writes, "Cornell's portraits of screen actresses held a special place in his heart and in his oeuvre because of his lifelong and all-consuming devotion to the cinema. It was Cornell's interest in motion pictures, in fact, that in many ways guided his artistic production."

Jodi Hauptman received her bachelor's degree from Princeton University and her doctorate from Yale University in 1995. A specialist in the art of the 20th century and contemporary art, Professor Hauptman's scholarly and teaching interests include the history of photography, and film history and theory. Hauptman has also worked on exhibitions at the Museum of Modern Art in New York City, including "Picasso and Braque: Pioneering Cubism" and "Masterpieces from the David and Peggy Rockefeller Collection: Manet to Picasso." Her essay on contemporary art and urbanism was included in the retrospective exhibition catalog on Fernand Léger, published by the Museum of Modern Art in 1998.

The Charles C. 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 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. 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:

  • 2000: Wanda M. Corn, The Great American Thing: Modern Art and National Identity, 1915–1930

  • 1999: Caroline Jones, Machine in the Studio: Constructing the Postwar American Artist (University of Chicago Press, 1997)

  • 1998: Sarah Burns, Inventing the Modern Artist: Art & Culture in Gilded Age America (Yale University Press, 1996)

Information about the 2002 Eldredge Prize is available on the museum's Web site at Nominations can be submitted via e-mail at eldredge[at] or write to Research and Scholars Center, Smithsonian American Art Museum, Washington, D.C. 20560-0970. The deadline for nominations is Dec. 1, 2001.

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.


Eldredge Prize Lecture

On Dec. 6, at 4 p.m., Professor Hauptman will present the annual Eldredge Prize lecture, titled "Love at Last Sight: Joseph Cornell's Stargazing," in the Grand Salon at the Renwick Gallery of the Smithsonian American Art Museum, located on Pennsylvania Avenue at 17th Street N.W. This lecture is free and open to the public. For more information, call (202) 357-2700.

The Smithsonian American Art Museum collection began with gifts of art donated to the federal government in 1829 and has evolved into the world's most important American art holdings with approximately 39,000 paintings, sculptures, prints and drawings, photographs, folk art and contemporary crafts.

While the three-year renovation of the museum's main building—the Old Patent Office—continues, American Art offers a full program of exhibitions at its Renwick Gallery. For information about Renwick Gallery activities, call (202) 357-2700. Please visit the museum's award-winning Web site at