Jennifer L. Roberts Awarded the 29th Annual Eldredge Prize by the Smithsonian American Art Museum

Congratulations to Jennifer L. Roberts on winning the Smithsonian American Art Museum‘s 29th Annual Charles C. Eldredge Prize for Distinguished Scholarship for her book, Transporting Visions: The Movement of Images in Early America.

The jurors wrote in a joint statement:

“Roberts’s adventurous account provides an exciting indication of where the field of American art is going as it pushes analysis of visual material into new terrain.”

UC Press is incredibly proud of this recognition in particular, and the continued acknowledgement of our American Art History publishing program by the Eldredge Prize: we have now won this distinguished award a total of nine times.

Jennifer L. Roberts is Elizabeth Cary Agassiz Professor of the Humanities at Harvard University. She teaches American art from the colonial period to the present, with particular focus on issues of landscape, expedition, material culture theory, and the history of science, and is the author of Mirror-Travels: Robert Smithson and History and Jasper Johns/In Press: The SI-207-2017 2 Crosshatch Works and the Logic of Print.



Join Us at the 2016 College Art Association Conference in Washington, DC!

University of California Press is exhibiting at the 104th Annual College Art Association Conference! The meeting convenes February 3-6 in Washington, DC.

Please visit us at booth #225 in the exhibit hall at the Washington Marriott Wardman Park Hotel for the following offers:

  • 40% conference discount on all orders
  • Request exam copies to consider for course adoption
  • Enter for a chance to win $100 worth of books by subscribing to UC Press eNews

Our art list is comprised of an interdisciplinary selection of titles perfect for research and course usage. Please see our flyer at our booth for our latest releases. Acquisitions and marketing staff will be available for your publishing questions, including our new Art History Editor, Nadine Little!

Follow @educatedarts, @collegeart, and hashtag #caa2016 for current meeting news. Catch up on our recent blog posts on Art & Architecture here.

Introducing Nadine Little, our new art history editor


We are very pleased to announce that Nadine Little has joined UC Press as our new art history editor.

Until recently, Nadine was the acquisitions editor at the University of Hawaii Press, where she acquired scholarly and trade books in the areas of science, nature, and the environment and regional general interest. Prior to publishing, she worked at a variety of cultural and educational institutions, including the Hawaii Opera Theater, the University of Hawaii Foundation, the University of Hawaii, Hamilton Library, and the Los Angeles County Museum of Art. She holds an MA in art history and museum studies from Case Western, where she focused in particular on Asian art, as well as a BA in art history from Cornell.

In addition to her passion for art, Nadine brings wide-ranging professional experience with art history, cultural institutions, and the acquisition of heavily-illustrated books. Learn more or contact her here. And, if you will be at the 2016 College Art Association annual meeting in DC, you can look forward to meeting her there!

Find us at Booth #225, and save 40% on all Art titles.

On the Andrew Wyeth renaissance and some favorite paintings

Guest post by David Cateforis

Even though he was one of the most famous and successful American artists of the twentieth century, Andrew Wyeth, whose haunting images of rural people, places, and things have for decades captivated viewers, has long been denied the kind of sustained and detailed scholarly attention that would normally be afforded to an artist of his prominence. But, after several years of work, sadly marked by the passing of Andrew Wyeth in January 2009, Rethinking Andrew Wyeth arrives amidst what can truly be seen as a Wyeth renaissance. Over the past three years important books and exhibition catalogues containing new research into Andrew Wyeth’s art have been published by the Farnsworth Art Museum, Shelburne Museum, Wadsworth Atheneum, Brandywine River Museum, Museum of Modern Art, and the National Gallery of Art. Also, the first exhibition of Wyeth’s art has been held in China, and the first dissertation on Wyeth since Wanda Corn’s in the early 1970s has been completed by Edwin Rein Harvey at the University of California, Berkeley. Additionally, the art of Andrew Wyeth will be addressed in a conference at the National Gallery of Art’s Center for Advanced Study in the Visual Arts this October. Clearly, the time for rethinking Andrew Wyeth is now—and it is hoped that this new book will both inform interested readers and stimulate additional scholarship on this truly important American artist.

I have long been drawn to Wyeth’s work of the 1940s, when he perfected his crisp and meticulously detailed style in the mediums of tempera and drybrush watercolor that came to be called magic realism because of its creation of a quality of dreamlike fantasy through the employment of sharply focused illusionism and unusual perspectives. Among my favorite early Wyeth works focusing on the landscape and fauna of his native rural Pennsylvania are the drybrush, Spring Beauty (1943, Sheldon Museum of Art, University of Nebraska – Lincoln) and the temperas, Winter Fields (1942, Whitney Museum of American Art), The Hunter (1943, Toledo Museum of Art), and Soaring (1942-1950, Shelburne Museum). While the first offers an image of new life in the form a flower pushing up through dead leaves, all three of the temperas include references to death (a dead crow, a rifle-toting hunter, circling turkey vultures), likely alluding to World War II, which was raging overseas at the time.

Contrasting Wyeth’s tightly controlled works in drybrush and tempera are his loose and freely brushed watercolors, demonstrating his complete mastery of this difficult medium. Wyeth’s earliest watercolors, such as The Lobsterman (1937, Hunter Museum of American Art, Chattanooga), are fresh and invigorating depictions of coastal Maine, which have been rightly compared to the work of Winslow Homer. Among his later watercolors, I favor those that offer intimate views of nature or humble objects in outdoor or indoor settings, such as Half Bushel (1959, Joslyn Art Museum) and Cranberries (1966, Greenville County Museum of Art).

I also admire many of Wyeth’s paintings and watercolors of isolated old farm buildings and empty domestic interiors, which are both rigorously composed and filled with poetic qualities of loneliness and a poignant sense of time’s passage. Among my favorites are the temperas Northern Point (1950, Wadsworth Atheneum Museum of Art), Toll Rope (1951, Delaware Art Museum), Cooling Shed (1953, Philadelphia Museum of Art), and Hay Ledge (1957, Greenville County Museum of Art), and the watercolors Cranberries (1966, Greenville County Museum of Art) and Alvaro and Christina (1968, Farnsworth Art Museum).

Finally, I consider some of Wyeth’s tempera portraits, depicting isolated sitters against simple or undefined backgrounds, to be masterpieces of the genre. With few exceptions, Wyeth’s sitters are shown at bust length and with their eyes averted from the viewer, lost in introspection as the artist delineates their features, hair, and clothing with astonishing precision while at the same time communicating a profound sense of their humanity. Atop my list of Wyeth’s best portraits are Karl (1948, private collection), Grape Wine (1966, Metropolitan Museum of Art), Siri (1970, Brandywine River Museum), Sea Dog (1971, North Carolina Museum of Art), and Braids (1979, Pacific Sun Trading Company).


David Cateforis is Professor of Art History at the University of Kansas, where he teaches American, modern, and contemporary art. He has lectured and published widely on 20th-century American art and has contributed essays to numerous museum exhibition and collection catalogues; publishers include the Des Moines Art Center, Nelson-Atkins Museum of Art, San Francisco Museum of Modern Art, Sheldon Memorial Art Gallery, Spencer Museum of Art, and Wichita Art Museum. He is the author of Willem de Kooning.


UC Press Art and Culture @educatedarts

Jacob Lawrence, The Life of Harriet Tubman, Panel 7: "Harriet Tubman worked as water girl to field hands. She also worked at plowing, carting, and hauling logs." 1940.

Now you can follow the UC Press arts program on Twitter @educatedarts. UC Press publicist Heather Vaughan, who has a master’s degree in visual culture from NYU, unites art and scholarship to bring you the latest in arts news, plus exhibits and events, interviews with artists and authors, and lessons to sharpen your art history expertise.

Many of our art books accompany museum exhibits, like the Twilight Visions exhibit at the International Center of Photography, opening January 29. This spring, don’t miss the Home Lands: How Women Made the West show at the Autry National Center, and the Christo and Jeanne-Claude exhibit at the Smithsonian American Art Museum. Follow Heather @educatedarts for updates on these and other shows.

The Jacob Lawrence exhibition at the DC Moore Gallery runs through February 6, and features paintings, prints and drawings from across Lawrence’s career. In her book Painting Harlem Modern, Patricia Hills explores Lawrence’s life and art from the Harlem Renaissance through the Great Depression, the Cold War, Jim Crow segregation, the civil rights movement, and beyond, and traces how his paintings transformed daily life into art, and art into social change.

The Smithsonian American Art Museum exhibit What’s It All Mean: William T. Wiley in Retrospect closes January 24, and will open at the Berkeley Art Museum and Pacific Film Archive on March 17. In this interview in Smithsonian Magazine, William T. Wiley describes the exhibit as an archaeological site: “There can be one bone sticking out, but you dig a little bit and discover more.”

In this Smithsonian video, Wiley reflects on being an artist, the role of mystery in his life and work, and why after 50 years of making art, he is still a beginner.

(Video available under the Creative Commons Attribution 3.0 license)

Thomas Eakins and the Cultures of Modernity

Thomas Eakins and the Cultures of Modernity Thomas Eakins and the Cultures of Modernity

By: Alan C. Braddock

I am an Assistant Professor of Art History at Temple University in Philadelphia (on leave, academic year 2008-09).  I teach a variety of courses in American art history from the colonial period to the present.  As a scholar, my work strives to produce new ways of seeing and understanding art through interdisciplinary exploration of its historical contexts.  Much of my research so far has focused on realism and the history of anthropology, as embodied in my book Thomas Eakins and the Cultures of Modernity, just released by UC Press.  In addition, I am now branching into two new areas.  One is ecocriticism, a form of ethical inquiry into the relationship between art and environmental history.  For several years, I have taught an undergraduate course called "Art and Environment in America since 1800," for which I always struggled to find appropriate reading assignments.  Fortunately, that problem is about to be solved, because I've put together my own textbook for the course.  In December, the University of Alabama Press will release A Keener Perception: Ecocritical Studies in American Art History, a collection of essays by authors from various disciplines that I have co-edited with Christoph Irmscher, Professor of English at Indiana University.  Another new area of interest for me is the impact of modern warfare on American artists, particularly in altering their ways of seeing and addressing the beholder, from the Civil War to World War I.  With that in mind, I'm working on another book titled Gun Vision: The Ballistic Imagination in American Art from Homer to O'Keeffe, which I expect to complete later this year.

My book, Thomas Eakins and the Cultures of Modernity, is the first to examine a major American artist in relation to the pluralist concept of 'cultures,' which began to emerge consistently in the writings of anthropologist Franz Boas and his students after 1900.  It was only after Eakins died (in 1916) that the 'culture concept' acquired wide currency.  My book demonstrates that Eakins was "premodern" in the sense that he never encountered or comprehended that concept, meaning that recent scholarly claims about his 'cultural' perspective are imprecise and anachronistic.  Eakins understood human diversity in terms of race, nation, gender, class, and religion, not 'cultural' behavior.  Consequently, my book implicitly demands that we use the word 'cultural' more carefully and historically when describing other past artists.  With that in mind, given the focus of my book on one painter from Philadelphia (albeit a very important one), I would be interested to learn from readers of this blog what other artists – American or not – might provide interesting case studies along these lines.  Winslow Homer?  Mary Cassatt?  Paul Gauguin?  Aaron Douglas?