The School of the Art Institute of Chicago (SAIC), a global leader in art and design education, is pleased to announce Annie Bourneuf as the winner of the 2016 Jean Goldman Book Prize. The annual prize is awarded to the most outstanding publication by a faculty member teaching in SAIC’s Department of Art History, Theory, and Criticism, and was presented by SAIC President Elissa Tenny and James Rondeau, Eloise W. Martin Director of the Art Institute of Chicago, at the annual Literary Lions Luncheon on October 5 at the Casino Club in Chicago.
Bourneuf received the award for her groundbreaking volume, “Paul Klee: The Visible and the Legible.” It is the first analytical discussion of the interplay between the visible and the legible in Klee’s early works (1910–20s). Bourneuf argues that the artist joined these elements to invite a manner of viewing that would unfold in time, a process analogous to reading. By creating forms that hover between the pictorial and the written, Klee reconceptualized abstraction at a significant moment in its development. In looking at the work of Klee in a new way—not through biography or form, but through story and relevant theory—Bourneuf forges a new understanding of his work and of the similarities between reading and seeing, or as the title says, between “the visible and the legible.”
This book has a significant connection to the Art Institute of Chicago with its vast collection of Klee’s graphic art and paintings as well as to the annual Jean Goldman Book Prize itself because both respect the importance of words and art in combination. It is a sophisticated, complex volume that contributes not only to the scholarship on Klee and to the history of abstraction, but also to the historiography of modernism and the critical issues that frame image making, reading and seeing.