Sebastian Smee has won this year’s Pulitzer prize for criticism: The 37 year old Australian is art critic for the Boston Globe. The two named “finalists” (ie. runners up) in this category were Nicolai Ouroussoff, architecture correspondent for the New York Times, and Jonathan Gold, a restaurant critic on LA Weekly.
Criticism is one of fourteen Pulitzers awarded in journalism. There are separate prizes in the arts (letters, drama and music). It is relatively rare for the criticism’s laurels to go to an art critic. Although Holland Cotter of the New York Times picked up the prize in 2009, the previous and only other time the award went to an art critic was Emily Genauer’s win in 1974. In recent years Michael Kimmelman and Jerry Saltz have been listed as finalists. The Pulitzer Prize dates back to 1917 but the criticism category was instituted in 1970.
Smee’s citation reads: “For his vivid and exuberant writing about art, often bringing great works to life with love and appreciation.” He joined to Boston Globe in May 2008, replacing Ken Johnson who returned to the New York Times after his brief tenure at the Globe. Formerly critic for The Australian, Smee was based for a number of years in London where he wrote for The Daily Telegraph and for art publications such as Modern Painters and The Art Newspaper. He is the author of books and catalog essays devoted to Lucian Freud.print