The Aristos Award

Annotated List of Recipients || List of Recipients by Year

The world abounds in awards and prizes for exemplary human achievement. Among those honoring criticism or scholarship in the arts, however, none are based on an objective view of the underlying concept, art. All embrace the notion that anything can be art if the artworld says it is. Selection criteria are expressed in the vaguest of terms. The Pulitzer Prize, for example, is given for distinguished arts criticism; the College Art Association's Frank Jewett Mather Award, for significant criticism in the visual arts; and the National Book Critics Circle Award in criticism, for the finest book published in English on the subject.

The Aristos Award, established by the Aristos Foundation in January 2006, differs fundamentally from the awards cited above, and from others like them. Briefly stated, it is given for objectivity in arts criticism, scholarship, or commentary. Such objectivity involves the recognition (often implicit) that to be meaningful the term art must refer to objects of a particular kind, and that present-day art therefore bears a fundamental similarity to art of the past. Often, the view expressed is that work regarded as art by presumed experts is not art at all. The fullest explication of the point of view underlying the awards is found in What Art Is: The Esthetic Theory of Ayn Rand.

Recipients of the Aristos Award include not only critics and scholars specializing in the arts but also writers and scholars in other fields, as well as ordinary people. Admittedly modest, the award at present consists solely of a citation in these pages, with no attendant ceremony, medal, certificate, or monetary prize. Not confined to an annual schedule, they are bestowed whenever worthy recipients are identified, even retroactively or posthumously, to individuals active anytime from 1900 to the present. Both written and spoken remarks are honored, in long forms and short--from books, essays, articles, and columns to statements made to interviewers and reporters and letters "to the editor." Finally, the Aristos Award pertains only to the individual's views on art as specified in the award citation--independent of any other opinions held in respect to art, philosophy, politics, or culture.

[Revised November 2007 and July 2020]

Annotated List of Recipients || List of Recipients by Year