New York Magazine Art Critic Jerry Saltz Wins the Pulitzer Prize for Criticism

Shortlisted twice, the veteran New York critic finally takes home journalism's most prestigious prize.

Jerry Saltz. Photo Sciulli/Getty Images for Vulture Festival.

Jerry Saltz, New York Magazine‘s senior art critic, has won this year’s Pulitzer Prize for criticism.

The veteran art writer—who was twice shortlisted as a finalist in 2001 and 2006—was selected “for a robust body of work that conveyed a canny and often daring perspective on visual art in America, encompassing the personal, the political, the pure and the profane,” according to the committee. He beat out fellow finalists Carlos Lozada, a book critic for the Washington Post, and Manohla Dargis, the New York Times‘s co-chief film critic, for the honor.

Saltz’s award-winning essays include “My Life As A Failed Artist,” published last April, which chronicles his pain and regret over an art career that never quite got off the ground—and what his experience as an art-school dropout taught him about being a critic. The committee also cited his articles on the Whitney Biennial, Kara Walker’s latest exhibition, the controversy over the Met’s Balthus painting, and Salvator Mundi, among others.

Known for an accessible and punchy writing style that decodes the complexities of contemporary art for a wide audience, Saltz is, perhaps, the most famous art critic in America. In 2010, he served as a judge on the short-lived Bravo reality television show Work of Art: The Next Great Artist.

Among the first art writers to embrace the power of social media, Saltz often referees heated debates on his Facebook page—an outlet that may drive more traffic than most art news sites. He has used the platform to criticize the market’s excess and reinforce his belief in art’s transformative power. (His freewheeling posts have also made him a target for criticism, though he was praised for his “innovative use of social media” in his profile on the Pulitzer’s website.)

After the news was announced, Saltz reacted—true to form—on Twitter. He thanked his wife and fellow critic Roberta Smith “for helping me find my life and calling,” as well as New York Magazine‘s editors. (Notably, Smith—the co-chief art critic for the New York Times—has never been nominated for a Pulitzer.)

Prior to joining New York Magazine in 2007, Saltz was a critic at the Village Voice for nearly a decade. He won the National Magazine Award in 2015 and the Frank Jewett Mather Award from the College Art Association in 2007. Saltz has contributed to publications including Frieze, Modern Painters, Parkett, Art in America, and Time Out New York.

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