Sami Siegelbaum Receives the 19th Annual Frost Essay Award 

Sami Siegelbaum is the recipient of the Smithsonian American Art Museum’s Patricia and Phillip Frost Essay Award for his article “Christopher D’Arcangelo Speculates: Transcending the Art-Labor Dialectic in Post-Fiscal-Crisis New York,” which appeared in the spring 2022 issue (vol. 36, no. 1) of American Art, the museum’s peer-reviewed journal for new scholarship. Siegelbaum’s article focuses on artist Christopher D’Arcangelo and his work in the 1970s renovating former industrial spaces in Manhattan and then presenting the contracts and finished work as art. He argues that D’Arcangelo’s “functional constructions,” as the artist called them, signaled the changing status of art and artists in New York City in the wake of fiscal crisis, the developing real estate market and a shift to speculative finance.  

The jurors who awarded the $1,000 prize were Michael Hatt, professor of art history at the University of Warwick; Cherise Smith, the Joseph D. Jamail Chair in African American Studies and professor in the African and African Diaspora Studies and art and art history departments at the University of Texas at Austin; and Shawn Michelle Smith, professor of visual and critical studies at the School of the Art Institute of Chicago. All three are members of the journal’s editorial board.   

The jurors praised Siegelbaum for “providing an outstanding example of how to understand the relationship of art to economic forces; how to articulate complicated political and theoretical ideas concisely and clearly; and how to synthesize theory and history, most remarkably demonstrated in his ability to pinpoint the concrete connections between social and economic changes in the city’s real estate market and the specific details of D’Arcangelo’s project.”  

The Frost Essay Award recognizes excellent scholarship in the field of American art history by honoring an essay published the previous year in American Art. Each year, the winning essay must advance the understanding of American art history and demonstrate original research and fresh ideas. The award, established in 2004, is made possible through the Patricia and Phillip Frost Endowment. 

Siegelbaum is a Los Angeles-based historian of modern and contemporary art and a visiting assistant professor in the department of art and art history at Occidental College. His research focuses on intersections between art and labor since the 1960s. Siegelbaum’s scholarship has appeared in publications such as Art Journal, Oxford Art Journal, Selva and Design and Culture. He is currently working on a book about the ways artists in New York City responded to the financialization of the economy in the wake of the 1975 fiscal crisis. He is active in the movement to organize adjunct and contingent faculty in higher education.  

The journal American Art is part of the Smithsonian American Art Museum’s robust publication program of books and catalogs that complements the museum’s exhibitions and educational programs. 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. A complete list of past Frost Essay Award winners and additional information about the award are also available on the museum’s website.  

About the Smithsonian American Art Museum and its Renwick Gallery

The Smithsonian American Art Museum is the flagship museum in the United States for American art and craft. It is home to one of the most significant and inclusive collections of American art in the world. The museum’s main building, located at Eighth and G streets N.W., is open daily from 11:30 a.m. to 7 p.m. The museum’s Renwick Gallery, a branch museum dedicated to contemporary craft, is located on Pennsylvania Avenue at 17th Street N.W. and is open daily from 10 a.m. to 5:30 p.m. Check online for current hours and admission information. Admission is free. Follow the museum on Facebook, Instagram, LinkedIn and YouTube. Smithsonian information: (202) 633-1000. Museum information (recorded): (202) 633-7970. Website:

Press Images

A headshot of Sami Siegelbaum
Press- Sami Siegelbaum

Courtesy of Sami Siegelbaum