ARTnews has won the Society of the Silurians 2012 Excellence in Journalism Arts/Culture/Magazines Award for its article “MoMA’s Problematic Provenances,” by William D. Cohan, which appeared in the December 2011 issue.
After a six-month investigation, Cohan found conflict and ambiguity in the history of three paintings by George Grosz at the Museum of Modern Art and in the history of the museum.
Cohan wrote that the museum houses artworks with questionable provenances, many of which were seized by the Nazis from German museums, from art dealers, or from artists themselves before finding their way into MoMA’s collection.
Cohan embedded the Grosz paintings in a saga of massive art theft and displacement. He related how the paintings were stolen from a Jewish art dealer in 1933 and how they were dispersed and eventually, after passing through many hands, purchased for MoMA by its founding director, Alfred H. Barr Jr.
The story revolved around Barr and his friend, the émigré art dealer Curt Valentin, who was the source of many of the museum’s masterpieces.
Cohan, author of Money and Power: How Goldman Sachs Came to Rule the World (Doubleday), is a columnist for Bloomberg View and writes for many publications.
Other award winners this year include the New York Times, the Wall Street Journal, the New York Post, the New York Daily News, Vanity Fair, New York magazine, and the Record.
The Silurians, founded in 1924, is an organization of more than 500 editors and reporters from the New York metropolitan area, who have worked for every major newspaper, wire service, and radio and television station in the region. For more than five decades the Silurians have awarded journalists whose reporting and writing embody the highest standards of the profession.
This is the twelfth time the Silurians have honored ARTnews. Since 1975, ARTnews has won 44 awards for excellence in reporting, criticism, and design, including the George Polk Award, the National Magazine Award, the Overseas Press Club of America Citation for Excellence, the Investigative Reporters and Editors Award, the Clarion Award of the Association for Women in Communications, and the Page One Award.