September 23, 2003
Director of Media Relations
AMHERST, Mass.-Natasha Staller, associate professor of fine arts at Amherst College and author of A Sum of Destructions: Picasso's Cultures and the Creation of Cubism, was a finalist for the Charles Rufus Morey Book Award, which honors an especially distinguished book in the history of art, of any period, in any language. Staller's book is a study of the historical and cultural antecedents that the dominant painter of the 20th century recreated. The book is the first study of "the degree to which revolutionary Cubism was saturated with Picasso's past."
A Sum of Destructions portrays Picasso as a thoroughly modern artist on a resolutely traditional quest: "Struggling to make sense of experience," Staller writes, "to make meaning, to make beauty-even as he redefined what was beautiful-goes to the core of what it means to be human."
Staller, educated at Wellesley College (A.B.) and Harvard University (Ph.D.), has taught at Amherst since 1992, after teaching at Princeton University and the University of Chicago. She has had fellowships at Harvard (Society of Fellows), Yale (Getty Fellowship/ Whitney Humanities Center), the University of Pennsylvania (Mellon Fellowship) and Radcliffe College (Bunting Institute.) Working on The Sum of Destructions for more than 20 years, Staller has lectured on Picasso's cultural heritage in museums and universities, and published parts of the book in Arts Magazine, Art Bulletin, Art History and the catalog of Picasso: The Early Years (1997), an exhibition at the National Gallery in Washington, D.C., and the Boston Museum of Fine Arts.