The Smithsonian American Art Museum has awarded Susanneh Bieber the 2017 Terra Foundation for American Art International Essay Prize for her essay “Going Back to Kansas City: The Origins of Judd’s Minimal Art.” In her text, Bieber explores an early moment in artist and art critic Donald Judd’s career when his minimalist sculpture and his critical writing both elevated an “ordinariness” connected to vernacular architecture of his hometown, Kansas City. The essay will be published in a forthcoming issue of American Art, the museum’s peer-reviewed journal for new scholarship.
Bieber, who is a German citizen, is the seventh winner of the prize, which recognizes excellence in research and writing in the field of American art history by a scholar who is a non-U.S. citizen. Established in 2009, this award supports essays that advance the understanding of historical American art and demonstrate new findings and original perspectives.
A jury evaluated the essays submitted for the prize following a call for papers. The 2017 reviewers were François Brunet, professor at the Université Paris Diderot; Erica Hirshler, Croll Senior Curator of American Paintings at the Museum of Fine Arts, Boston; and Robin Veder, executive editor of American Art at the Smithsonian American Art Museum. They recognized Bieber’s “clear and cogent” essay for offering “a novel contribution that roots Judd’s minimalist aesthetic in a populist Midwestern context” with the laudable qualities of a “very methodically and cleverly built” argument.
Bieber is assistant professor in the departments of visualization and architecture at Texas A&M University. Her area of expertise is modern and contemporary American art in an international context, with a particular focus on the relationship between art, architecture and the built environment. Before completing her doctorate in 2012 at the Freie Universität Berlin, she worked as curator at the Tate Modern in London and the Fresno Metropolitan Museum in California. Currently, Bieber is working on a book titled Construction Sites: American Artists Engage the Built Environment, 1960– 75, and has begun research for a second book that focuses on American Regionalism in art, architecture and urban planning.
The journal American Art is part of the museum’s active publications program, which also includes books and exhibition catalogs. It is produced by the museum’s Research and Scholars Center, which also administers internships and fellowships and offers unparalleled research databases and extensive photographic collections documenting American art and artists. Information about subscribing, purchasing single issues or submitting articles to the journal, which is published for the museum by the University of Chicago Press, is available online, http://www.journals.uchicago.edu/amart.
The essay prize is supported by funding from the Terra Foundation for American Art, which also supports fellowships at the museum. A complete list of past Terra Foundation for American Art International Essay Prize winners and additional information about the award are available on the museum’s website, https://americanart.si.edu/research/awards/terra. The next prize will be awarded in 2019.
About the Smithsonian American Art Museum
The Smithsonian American Art Museum is the home to one of the largest and most inclusive collections of American art in the world. Its artworks reveal America’s rich artistic and cultural history from the colonial period to today. The museum’s main building is located at Eighth and F streets N.W., above the Gallery Place/Chinatown Metrorail station. Its Renwick Gallery, a branch museum dedicated to contemporary craft and decorative arts, is located on Pennsylvania Avenue at 17th Street N.W. Admission is free. Follow the museum on Facebook, Instagram, Twitter and YouTube. Smithsonian information: (202) 633-1000. Museum information (recorded): (202) 633-7970. Website: americanart.si.edu.