Center for the History of Collecting Names Winner of Biennial Book Prize

Cover of the book Making it Modern

The Frick’s Center for the History of Collecting has awarded its biennial book prize for a distinguished publication on the history of collecting in America to Making It Modern: The Folk Art Collection of Elie and Viola Nadelman, by Margaret K. Hofer and Roberta J. M. Olson, with contributions by Kenneth L. Ames, Barbara Haskell, Cynthia Nadelman, and Elizabeth Stillinger (published in 2015 by the New-York Historical Society Museum & Library in association with D Giles Limited, London). Margaret K. Hofer is Vice President and Museum Director at the New-York Historical Society, and Roberta Olson is its Curator of Drawings and Professor Emerita, Wheaton College, Norton, MA. Kenneth L. Ames is Professor Emeritus at the Bard Graduate Center; Barbara Haskell is Curator at the Whitney Museum of American Art; Cynthia Nadelman (granddaughter of the Nadelmans) is a poet, art critic, and editor; and Elizabeth Stillinger is an independent art historian. An award ceremony will take place at The Frick Collection in January.

Comments Frick Director Ian Wardropper, “We are very proud of the role that the Center for the History of Collecting has played in promoting and sustaining research on the history of collecting. The Center, celebrating a significant milestone this year, was founded at the Frick Art Reference Library ten years ago with a mission to support scholarship in the growing field of the history of collecting—hosting symposia, recording oral histories, publishing noteworthy books, and awarding fellowships. Its book prize strengthens this area of study by recognizing valuable new contributions, with the aim to inspire and support future scholarship. The Frick offers warm congratulations to the authors and essay writers of Making It Modern, the first major examination of the groundbreaking folk art collection assembled by sculptor Elie Nadelman and his wife Viola. It looks to the vast body of over 15,000 works acquired by the Nadelmans, showcasing the range of their collection, from furniture to paintings, to ceramic, glass, textiles, watercolors, and household tools. Lavishly illustrated, the book brings together essays by distinguished scholars who consider the very definition of folk art, both as the Nadelmans saw it and as we view this area of collecting today.”

Adds, Inge Reist, Director of the Center for the History of Collecting, and a member of the prize jury, “This beautifully produced publication conveys the essence of the Nadelmans’ passions and approaches to collecting through impeccably researched essays that bring to light a wealth of archival material. In addition to so deeply delving into the activities and motivations of the couple, the book examines their interest in context, as pioneer collectors of this category of art and as standard-bearers for ‘legitimizing’ utilitarian objects as worthy of serious attention. The book’s essays are each dedicated to a particular aspect of the Nadelmans’ collecting, and the volume thus enables the reader to appreciate their influences, as well as how they influenced others.”

For information and inquiries regarding the 2019 prize, please contact


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