Sophie Cras Is Awarded the 2012 Terra Foundation for American Art International Essay Prize

May 4, 2012
News Release
Terra Foundation for American Art

The Smithsonian American Art Museum has awarded Sophie Cras the 2012 Terra Foundation for American Art International Essay Prize. Cras’ winning essay, “Art as Investment and ‘Artistic Shareholding’ Experiments in the 1960s,” explores the work of American conceptual artists who made financial investment, sale and money the subjects of their art. The essay will be published in the spring 2013 issue of the museum’s scholarly journal American Art (vol. 27, no. 1).

Cras is the third winner of the $500 prize, which recognizes excellent research and writing by a scholar in the field of American art history based outside the United States. The annual award, established in 2009, supports essays that advance the understanding of historical American art and demonstrate new findings and original perspectives.

I am delighted that the museum is encouraging new ways of looking at the American experience and global connections thanks to the Terra Foundation’s continued support of this award,” said Elizabeth Broun, The Margaret and Terry Stent Director of the Smithsonian American Art Museum.

Each year, an international review panel evaluates essays submitted for the prize following a call for papers. The 2012 reviewers were Michael Hatt, professor of art history at the University of Warwick in Britain; Ursula Frohne, professor of art history at the Universität zu Köln in Cologne, Germany; and Rebecca Zurier, associate professor of the history of art and faculty associate in the program in American culture at the University of Michigan. The final decision was made from among the panel’s top-ranked candidates by American Art’s executive editor Emily D. Shapiro in consultation with its editorial board.

Cras, who is a French citizen, is a doctoral candidate at the Université Paris 1 Panthéon-Sorbonne, with a background in art history and economics. Her dissertation, “L’économie au miroir de l’art, 1955–75,” considers how money and finance became a focus for artistic experimentation in the 1960s. She recently published a study of the notion of value in the work of Yves Klein in the French art journal Marges (2010).

A complete list of past Terra Foundation for American Art International Essay Prize winners and additional information about the award are available at The deadline for submissions for the 2013 prize is Jan. 15, 2013.

The prize is supported by funding from the Terra Foundation for American Art. The Terra Foundation also supports fellowships at the museum for predoctoral, postdoctoral and senior scholars as well as the Terra Symposia on American Art in a Global Context.Presentations from these biennial symposia are available on the museum’s website,

American Art is part of the museum’s active publications program, which includes books and exhibition catalogs. It is produced by the museum’s Research and Scholars Center, which also administers fellowships for pre- and postdoctoral scholars and offers unparalleled research databases and extensive photographic collections documenting American art and artists. The journal is published for the museum by the University of Chicago Press. Information about subscribing, purchasing single issues or submitting articles to the journal is available at

About the Smithsonian American Art Museum

The Smithsonian American Art Museum celebrates the vision and creativity of Americans with artworks in all media spanning more than three centuries. Its National Historic Landmark building is located at Eighth and F streets N.W., above the Gallery Place/Chinatown Metrorail station. Museum hours are 11:30 a.m. to7 p.m. daily, except Dec. 25. Admission is free. Follow the museum on Twitter, Facebook, Flickr, ArtBabble, iTunes and YouTube. Museum information (recorded): (202) 633-7970. Smithsonian Information: (202) 633-1000. Website:

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