Each year we select and award dissertation prizes for outstanding essays written by undergraduate and postgraduate students. Winning and shortlisted essays are assessed on the quality of their originality, research and method, and form and content.

Prize winning essays

We are delighted to announce that Prune Engerant (University of Edinburgh) is the winner of the Association for Art History’s 2023 Undergraduate Dissertation Prize for the essay ‘Read the Room: Exploring Lucy Lippard and the Role of the Curator’.

We are also delighted to announce that Samuel Lincoln (University of Oxford) is the winner of the Association for Art History’s 2023 Postgraduate Dissertation Prize for their essay, ‘The White, White, White Sea: A Postclassical Account of Cy Twombly’s Mediterranean Myth’.

Many congratulations to both Prune and Samuel, who were awarded their prizes at the AAH Annual Conference. Read their essay abstracts below.

Undergraduate runners-up

  • Caitlin Edge (Durham University) for the essay ‘Painting for the mind and for the soul: “Moralising” French Genre paintings of the Family (c. 1740-1780)’.
  • Giacomo Prideaux (University of Cambridge) for the essay ‘Juliana Huxtable and the Politics of Queer Temporality.’
  • Seraphina Mutscheller (City & Guilds of London Art School for the essay ‘A Mycophilosophical Exploration of Ana Mendieta’s & Jadé Fadojutimi’s Works and Practices’.

Postgraduate runners-up

  • Amy Berg (University College London) for the essay ‘Issues of Inheritance in LaToya Ruby Frazier’s The Notion of Family’.
  • Daisy Gould (Goldsmiths, University of London) for the essay ‘Opacity/opacity: Decolonising Bermudian Visual Culture at the Frontier’.

Prize winning abstracts

Undergraduate: Prune Engerant, Read the Room: Whilst the art critic turned curator Lucy R. Lippard has come to be canonised within curatorial discourse, an in-depth and critical study of her curatorial work is missing in the field of curatorial studies. Indeed, current engagements with her work have either been concerned with an uncritical, restorative approach, dedicated to remedying what has been termed as ‘exhibition amnesia’––the cultural loss of literature on past curatorial moments––or have conversely engaged with Lippard from a broader curatorial perspective, relegating Lippard to an under-developed, anecdotal position. As a result, the nuances, tensions, and limitations of Lippard’s curatorial praxis remain overlooked within scholarship. By utilising Benjamin Buchloh’s definition of Conceptual art as the framework for this study, this dissertation hopes to complicate current readings of Lippard and engage carefully with different facets of her work. Namely, in mapping out Lippard’s close interaction with Conceptual art ideals, the dissertation addresses Lippard’s curatorial engagement with the exhibition as object, the theme of authorship, and audience engagement. Through an analysis of the card catalogues produced by Lippard for her Number Shows––a set of four exhibitions spanning from 1969 to 1974––I first contend that the loose, card catalogue functioned as the primary vehicle of Lippard’s exhibition in response to the ‘dematerialised’ nature of Conceptual art. Subsequently, due to the collapsing of the curatorial and artistic sphere within this platform, I explore Lippard’s negotiation of curatorial authorship and concern with accessing broader art audiences through this case study. Although Lippard’s work undeniably catalysed important and valuable curatorial shifts, this dissertation argues that significant shortcomings in her praxis remain. If Lippard is to be utilised as a model for contemporary curators, these limitations must now equally be inscribed within scholarship.

Postgraduate: Samuel Lincoln, The White, White, White Sea: Cy Twombly’s affinity for Greco-Roman antiquity has been thoroughly studied within a variety of disciplines, from art history to classical philology and even archaeology. Across more than seventy years of its exhibition, his artwork is often shown alongside ancient inscription and sculpture, including, most recently, at the 2022-2023 exhibit of his work, Making Past Present, at the Getty in Los Angeles and the Museum of Fine Arts in Boston. Where Twombly’s classicism has generally been taken at face value, as a historical scaffolding through which Twombly’s art confronts questions of memory and the durability of cultural production, this project centres Twombly’s lifelong relationship with the American South and his postmodern interpolation of classical and neoclassical aesthetics to reconcile Twombly’s vision of antiquity with the postcolonial discourse on the field of classical studies, the relationship between Euro-American imperialism and classical historiography, and the racist architectures of power in the 19th century American South.

Assessment and Nominations

The Dissertation Prize is assessed by our Doctoral and Early Career Research (DECR) committee. Many thanks to those on the committee, lead by Sonny Ruggiero and Thomas Metcalf, who read and shortlisted this year’s submissions. The quality and originality of the essays has been extremely high. Many thanks to all who submitted nominations.


left: Lucy Lippard, card catalogue produced for Seattle show, 1969, in From Conceptualism to Feminism, 189.

right: The Windsor Plantation, (Claiborne County,) Mississippi, Carol M. Highsmith, Public domain, via Wikimedia Commons.

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