This year’s winner of the Melva J. Dwyer Award is Dr. Oliver Botar for Andor Weininger: A Bauhausler in Canada, published by the Robert McLaughlin Gallery, 2009. This book, which accompanied the exhibition A Bauhausler in Canada: Andor Weininger in the ’50s at the Robert McLaughlin Gallery (May 9 – June 28, 2009) are the only Canadian contributions to a major series of exhibitions, conferences and publications on both sides of the Atlantic celebrating the 90th anniversary of the establishment of the Bauhaus in Weimar, Germany.
The Melva J. Dwyer Award was established in recognition of the contribution made to the field of art librarianship by Melva Dwyer, former head of the Fine Arts Library, University of British Columbia. It is given to the creators of exceptional reference or research tools relating to Canadian art and architecture.
The 2009/10 award was administered by me Liv Valmestad, Chair of ARLIS/NA Canada, and a jury that consisted of Eva Revitt, Grant MacEwen University, James Rout, the Banff Centre Library and Cyndie Campbell, National Gallery of Canada. I want to take this opportunity to thank everyone on the jury for their efficient work and thoughtful deliberations.
This year, eleven nominations were received, including one web site The Historical Canadian Women Artists: A Bio-bibliographic Database, located on the Canadian Women Artists History Initiative (CWAHI) website at http://cwahi.concordia.ca/ , 2007, co-authored by Arlisian Melinda Reinhardt, Concordia University. This site is a fantastic initiative and is an artist database that includes over 300 entries of women artists with biographical information, educational background, association memberships, locations and holdings of artist files and bibliographies throughout Canada. This initiative was given Honourable Mention for this year’s Melva Dwyer award.
The winning entry, A Bauhausler in Canada: Andor Weininger in the ‘50s, documents the life of Hungarian-born Andor Weininger (1899-1986), a recognized figure at the Bauhaus, the most influential art and design school of the 20th century. After his arrival to Toronto in 1951, it seemed as though he would integrate into the burgeoning city’s emergent Modernist art scene, but after initial successes, Weininger’s Canadian career faltered and soon after receiving Canadian citizenship in 1957, Weininger and his family moved on to New York City. Since the 1960s his works have been included in many major international exhibitions. His art is represented in the collections of the MOMA and the Metropolitan Museum of Art in New York, the Busch-Reisinger Museum at Harvard University, and in a number of European collections.
With its excellent scholarship, this book reveals that despite his marginalization in Toronto, Weininger enjoyed his most productive years as an artist in Canada, resulting in an inventive, highly eclectic and often strikingly beautiful oeuvre. The recovery of this oeuvre to Canadian art began when the foundation set up in his memory donated important groups of his work to The Art Gallery of Ontario, The Robert McLaughlin Gallery and Gallery One One One at the University of Manitoba. In this volume, Dr. Oliver Botar both documents these donations and takes a close look at Weininger in Canada, and discusses the shifting loyalties of Canadian abstract artists during the 50s and adds to the history of Canadian Modernism.
In the jury’s words, this book was “the complete package.” The jury was very impressed with both book’s comprehensiveness and the high quality of its layout and presentation. Not only does it contain endnotes, an index and bibliography, but it also includes a chronology of Weininger’s life and a catalogue of all of his art works housed in Canadian collections. The book itself is beautifully designed and presented. Tasteful colour combinations are used in the table of contents and chapter pages. The colour photographs are of excellent quality presented in both full colour plates and also in smaller sizes, which dot the margins of the text throughout the book.