Art In Literature: The Mary Lynn Kotz Award


ART IN LITERATURE: The Mary Lynn Kotz Award recognizes an outstanding book that is written primarily in response to a work (or works) of art while also showing the highest literary quality as a creative or scholarly work on its own merit. This unique award, established in 2013 by the Library of Virginia and the Virginia Museum of Fine Arts, is named in honor of Mary Lynn Kotz, longtime contributing editor of ARTnews magazine and author of the award–winning biography of artist Robert Rauschenberg. Originally published in 1990, the third edition of Rauschenberg: Art and Life was published in March 2018. For years Kotz has spoken passionately about the need for clear, exciting writing about art.

The founding committee for the Art in Literature Award included Katherine Neville, (Board, Smithsonian Libraries); Alex Nyerges (Director, Virginia Museum of Fine Arts); Karl H. Pribram, MD (Distinguished Professor, Georgetown University); Clarice Smith (Board, Smithsonian American Art Museum); Lindley Smith, MD (Board, Virginia Museum of Fine Arts), and Sandra G. Treadway (Librarian of Virginia).

Works eligible for submission for the award must be published for the first time in English in the United States in the calendar year before the award is presented. New editions of previously published works are eligible for consideration if the new edition contains a substantial amount of new material. The topic of the book submitted must be the visual arts, including but not limited to painting, carving, sculpture, printmaking, textiles, glass, and the artists or milieu of such works—but excluding such arts as dramatic and performance arts, music, literature, and interactive or computer art. Categories of acceptable work include: fiction, journalism, poetry, history, biography, art history, social history of art, catalogs of qualified museum exhibitions, and young adult books.

The 2021 winner of the Art in Literature Award is Continuum: North American Native Art at the Nelson-Atkins Museum of Art - by Gaylord Torrence. The author will be recognized at a special event at the Virginia Museum of Fine Arts on Friday, October 15, 2021 as well as the virtual Library of Virginia's Annual Literary Awards Celebration on Saturday, October 16, 2021. Click here to learn more about Gaylord Torrence. Purchase tickets for VMFA event on Friday, October 15.

A list of past finalists and winners can be viewed on the Literary Awards website.

Nominations for the 2021 Art in Literature: Mary Lynn Kotz Award (books published in 2020) are now closed. Nomination submission forms for the 2022 Art in Literature: Mary Lynn Kotz Award (books published in 2021) are now being accepted and can be found here; nominations will be accepted through March 15, 2022.


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