French scholar Hélène Valance has been awarded the 2016 Terra Foundation-Yale University Press American Art in Translation Book Prize.

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Terra Foundation Publication Awards Bolster Rich Cross-cultural Dialogue on American Art

March 10, 2016

Chicago, IL—The Terra Foundation for American Art, in partnership with Yale University Press, is pleased to announce the inaugural winner of the American Art in Translation Book Prize: Hélène Valance, for her volume Nuits américaines: l’art du nocturne aux États-Unis 1809–1917. In addition to a $5,000 cash prize, Ms. Valance will have her book translated into English and published by Yale University Press. 

“There has been noticeable growth in the field of American art history among scholars worldwide, and this prize helps to ensure that culturally and geographically diverse voices are included in the conversation,” stated Terra Foundation President & CEO Elizabeth Glassman. “In conjunction with one of the leading academic presses, we are meeting the need for high-quality English translations of foreign scholarship and fostering international collaboration and research on the historical art of the United States.”

A French scholar specializing in representations of the landscape in nineteenth and early-twentieth-century American art and visual culture, Valance received a PhD from Paris Diderot University-Paris 7 in 2012. She was a fellow at the Smithsonian American Art Museum, in Washington, DC, in 2007 and 2011; at the Cooper Hewitt, in New York, in 2010; and most recently at the Courtauld Institute of Art, in London, 2014–2015. Valance has authored several articles and essays, including a chapter entitled “The Dynamo and the Virgin: Henry Ossawa Tanner’s Religious Nocturnes” in the catalogue for the 2012 exhibition Henry Ossawa Tanner: Modern Spirit, at the Pennsylvania Academy of the Fine Arts, in Philadelphia.

Nuits américaines grew out of multiple research stays at universities, museums, and libraries across the United States, where I had the opportunity to exchange information with dozens of American scholars, curators, conservators, and archivists. In this sense, I consider that this book belongs in North America as much as in Europe,” explained Valance. “I am happy to see that it will now be given greater visibility with this translation prize.”

Nuits américaines, which has just been published in French by Presses de l’université Paris-Sorbonne, examines the night landscapes and nocturnes popular in artistic circles at the turn of the twentieth century in the United States. Featuring artwork by James McNeill Whistler, Henry Ossawa Tanner, Edward Steichen, and Winslow Homer, among many others, the book considers artists who have rarely been viewed together, putting the fashion for nocturnes in perspective with larger cultural trends, scientific and technological developments, and social issues that dominated the period.

“The author’s examination of the nocturne, and particularly how it related to race and the American frontier, is a new and important contribution to the field, and one that we will be proud to publish,” says Patricia Fidler, publisher, Art and Architecture, at Yale University Press.

The Terra Foundation-Yale University Press American Art in Translation Book Prize is awarded to a non-US author whose work contributes significantly to scholarship on historical American art (c. 1500–1980). Single-author, book-length academic manuscripts originally written in a language other than English—previously unpublished or published within the previous five calendar years—in the field of American art history are eligible. Topics of interest include painting, sculpture, graphic arts, photography, decorative arts, craft, and folk art.

“The American Art in Translation Book Prize is just one part of the foundation’s larger publications program, which also includes the Terra Foundation Essays series, an international essay prize, and international publication grants, the latter administered in partnership with the College Art Association,” stated Francesca Rose, program director of publications at the Terra Foundation. “All of these opportunities help to stimulate a rich cross-cultural dialogue on American art.”

The international publication grants, for example, provide financial support for the publication of book-length scholarly manuscripts in the history of American art in three distinct categories:

  • Grants to US publishers for manuscripts considering American art in an international context;
  • Grants to non-US publishers for manuscripts on topics in American art; and
  • Grants for the translation of books on topics in American art to or from English.

The nine Terra Foundation International Publication Grant recipients for 2016 are:

  • Jean-Pierre Criqui and Céline Flécheux, eds., Robert Smithson. Mémoire et entropie (Les presses du réel)
  • Erika Doss, Twentieth-Century American Art, translated into Armenian by Angela Harutyunyan (Eiva Arts Foundation)
  • Eva Ehninger and Antje Krause-Wahl, eds., In Terms of Painting (Revolver Publishing)
  • Darcy Grimaldo Grigsby, Colossal: Engineering the Suez Canal, Statue of Liberty, Eiffel Tower, and Panama Canal, translated into French by Karine Douplitzky (Éditions des archives contemporaines)
  • Rockwell Kent, Voyaging Southward from the Strait of Magellan, translated into Spanish and edited by Fielding D. Dupuy, Amarí Peliowski, and Catalina Valdés (Museo Nacional de Bellas Artes [Chile] and Ediciones Universidad Alberto Hurtado)
  • Will Norman, Transatlantic Aliens: Modernism, Exile and Culture in Midcentury America (Johns Hopkins University Press)
  • Annika Öhrner, ed., Art in Transfer—Curatorial Practices and Transnational Strategies in the Era of Pop (Södertörn University)
  • Joshua Shannon, The Recording Machine: Art and the Culture of Fact (Yale University Press)
  • Fred Turner, The Democratic Surround: Multimedia and American Liberalism from World War II to the Psychedelic Sixties, translated into French by Anne Lemoine (C & F Éditions)

To learn more about the Terra Foundation’s publications program, please visit

College Art Association
The College Art Association is dedicated to providing professional services and resources for artists, art historians, and students in the visual arts. CAA serves as an advocate and a resource for individuals and institutions nationally and internationally by offering forums to discuss the latest developments in the visual arts and art history through its Annual Conference, publications, exhibitions, website, and other programs, services, and events. CAA focuses on a wide range of advocacy issues, including education in the arts, freedom of expression, intellectual-property rights, cultural heritage and preservation, workforce topics in universities and museums, and access to networked information technologies. Representing its members’ professional needs since 1911, CAA is committed to the highest professional and ethical standards of scholarship, creativity, criticism, and teaching. Learn more about CAA at

Terra Foundation for American Art
Established in 1978, the Terra Foundation for American Art is dedicated to fostering the exploration, understanding, and enjoyment of the visual arts of the United States. With financial resources of more than $350 million, an exceptional collection of American art from the colonial era to 1945, and an expansive grant program, it is one of the leading foundations focused on American art, supporting exhibitions, academic programs, and research worldwide.

Yale University Press
Founded in 1908, Yale University Press is one of the oldest and largest American university presses. By publishing serious works that contribute to a global understanding of human affairs, Yale University Press aids in the discovery and dissemination of light and truth, lux et veritas, which is a central purpose of Yale University. The publications of the Press are books and other materials that further scholarly investigation, advance interdisciplinary inquiry, stimulate public debate, educate both within and outside the classroom, and enhance cultural life. For more information visit