The Robert Motherwell
Book Award

The Robert Motherwell Book Award is given annually and carries a prize of $10,000 awarded to the author of an outstanding publication in the history and criticism of modernism in the arts – including the visual arts, literature, music and the performing arts. Nominations are normally made by publishers, and the winner is chosen by a panel of distinguished scholars and writers.


Nomination Criteria

Eligibility for the 2018 award is limited to books about modern art and/or the history and criticism of modernism in the arts that were first published in 2017, in English. (Our definition of modernism is broad and we will consider books that deal with art created between the nineteenth century and the present.) Typically, an eligible book will have been written by a single author; but volumes with co-authors are eligible if the tenor of the books is that of a coherent work with a recognizably unified voice. Anthologies are therefore not eligible.


Nomination Timeline & Procedure

Publishers may nominate any books on their 2017 list that they believe merit the jury’s consideration. Nominations may be sent starting November 1 and will be accepted until December 15. Deadlines that fall on a weekend or holiday will be extended to the next business day. Nominations should include the book’s title, author and a 50 word précis.


Publishers of books that the jury wishes to further consider will be contacted in February 2018, and asked to ship review copies directly to each of the three members of the jury.



Radicalism in the Wilderness: International Contemporaneity and 1960s Art in Japan

Reiko Tomii

The MIT Press

Honorable Mention
Susan E. Cahan, Mounting Frustration: The Art Museum in the Age of Black Power, (Duke University Press).


Paul Klee: The Visible and the Legible

Annie Bourneuf

The University of Chicago Press

Honorable Mention
Marnin Young, Realism in the Age of Impressionism: Painting and the Politics of Time, (Yale University Press).


Kurt Schwitters: Space, Image, Exile

Megan R. Luke

The University of Chicago Press

Honorable Mention
TaTa Dada: The Real Life and Celestial Adventures of Tristan Tzara


Novelty: A History of the New

Michael North

The University of Chicago Press


Machine Art, 1934

Jennifer Jane Marshall

The University of Chicago Press

Honorable Mention: Paul Elie, Reinventing Bach, published by Farrar, Straus and Giroux


The Book as Instrument: Stéphane Mallarmé, the Artist's Book, and the Transformation of Print Culture

Anna Sigrídur Arnar

The University of Chicago Press

Honorable Mention: Ming Tiampo, Gutai: Decentering Modernism, published by the University of Chicago Press.


The Experimental Group: Ilya Kabakov, Moscow Conceptualism, Soviet Avant-Gardes

Matthew Jesse Jackson

The University of Chicago Press


Cézanne’s Other: The Portraits of Hortense

Susan Sidlauskas

University of California Press


Harmony and Dissent: Film and Avant-Garde Art Movements in the Early Twentieth Century

R. Bruce Elder

Wilfrid Laurier University Press


Vitebsk: The Life of Art

Aleksandra Shatskikh

Yale University Press


Russian Modernism between East and West: Natal'ia Goncharova and the Moscow Avant-Garde

Jane Ashton Sharp

Cambridge University Press


Revisiting "The Waste Land"

Lawrence Rainey

Yale University Press


Ovid and the Moderns

Theodore Ziolkowski

Cornell University Press


Orientalist Aesthetics: Art, Colonialism, and French North Africa, 1880-1930

Roger Benjamin

University of California Press


History of the Surrealist Movement

Gerard Durozoi

The University of Chicago Press


Anselm Kiefer

Daniel Arasse