The Dallas Museum of Art
named Caroline Goeser, Associate Professor of Art History in the School of Art at the University of Houston, as the 2008 Vasari Award Winner for her book Picturing the New Negro: Harlem Renaissance Print Culture and Modern Black Identity (University Press of Kansas).
This year marks the 23rd instance of the Vasari Award, which is given to an author working in Texas whose book provides insight into works of art or aspects of art history and theory that enriches the understanding of visual arts. Criteria for the award include originality and depth of scholarship, quality of book production and visual presentation of material, as well as significance for the field of specialization and the literature of art history. The Dallas Museum of Art’s Mildred R. and Frederick M. Mayer Library sponsors the Vasari Award, which recognizes an outstanding scholarly publication by an art historian in Texas.
Picturing the New Negro is a remarkably complex and eye-opening study of the way in which artists during the Harlem Renaissance of the 1920s and 1930s created a new cultural identity for African Americans. In concentrating on prints and book and magazine illustrations, Goeser shows the graphic force that these artists gave to the New Negro movement. By melding black poetry and other writings with popular print images, the book is as much cultural history as art history and demonstrates the depth and richness of this great period in the life of African Americans. Aaron Douglas’ cover image of an African woman for the May 1927 issue of Opportunity magazine is both a striking modernist design and a logo for the New Negro experience.
Judges for the 2008 award were Dr. Anne Bromberg, Head Juror and The Cecil and Ida Green Curator of Ancient and Asian Art at the Dallas Museum of Art; and the winners of the 2007 Vasari Award, Randall C. Griffin, Associate Professor of Art History, SMU Meadows School of the Arts, and Anthony Alofsin, the Roland Gommel Roessner Centennial Professor in Architecture and Professor of Art and Art History at the University of Texas at Austin.