The Matthew Abramson '96 Prize for Best Senior Thesis in History of Art and Architecture


Matthew S. Abramson, known as Matt to his family and friends, was an avid reader from the time he was a child and an avid student of art starting in the fourth grade when he was introduced to the concept of style by a teacher who preferred the class art show to the class play.  He grew up in New York City where there was no shortage of art and architecture to see and study. He traveled extensively with his parents (David ’65, Stephanie ‘66 and sister, Hilary, 97) and with friends to indulge his love of skiing and learning about people from other cultures.  Matt blessed his family and friends with a dry and literary sense of humor and great accomplishment as a chef.  He wrote a book containing his own bread recipes.

Matt read voraciously on many subjects including art, Japanese naval history and the American civil war but his passion was everything related to the automobile; he loved the history, production, design, engineering, people and business of cars and, most of all, driving them.  He combined his love of art and architecture and his passion for cars in his senior thesis [which related LeCorbusier’s architecture of multifamily buildings in France to Henry Ford’s mass production of cars]. In his senior year, Matt was awarded a travel stipend to visit Le Corbusier buildings in Marseille and Bordeaux in preparation for writing his thesis which earned a Summa Cum Laude.

Matt felt strongly about public service and spent the year after graduation working in the City Year program in Boston in a school for children with special needs and looked forward to a career in the practice of law. He was admitted to Columbia Law School for the class of 2000 but was diagnosed with a rare form of cancer in May of 1997 and was not able to attend.

When Matt first learned of his diagnosis, before starting treatment, he established the Matt Abramson Thesis Prize in what is now the Department of History of Art and Architecture to reward exceptional work.  After his death in November of 1998, his family established the Matt S. Abramson Travelling Fellowship to help fund travel by students in the Department of History of Art and Architecture preparing their senior theses.

Past Winners of the Matthew Abramson Prize for Best Senior Thesis


Erica Eisen

From Curios to Collectibles: Yamanaka Sadajiro and the Politics of the Changing Asian Art Canon

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Adela Kim

Beyond the Labyrinth: Duchamp's Subversive Criticism in the Rotoreliefs (1935-1965)


Eleanor Westwood Wilkinson

Dangerous Visions: Idolatry as Metaphor in Late Nineteenth-Century American Realism

Honor Wilkinson
"Ruins and Remembrance: The Transformation of Function and Evolution of Collective Memory at Fountains Abbey and Whitby Abbey"

Kristie La
""Enlightenment, Advertising, Education, etc.": Herbert Bayer and The Museum of Modern Art's "Road to Victory""

Lucy Anderson
"The Past is a Foreign Country: Historicist Implications of Osman Hamdi Bey’s Orientalist Vision" 

Justin Davidson
"Imitation as Innovation: The Imitatio Christi, 1450-1550"


Davida Fernandez-Barkan
"The Many Faces of Malevich's Return to Figuration, 1928-34"

Richard Taylor
"THE PROPYLON OF PTOLEMY II Architecture and Experience at the Sanctuary of the Great Gods, Samothrace"

Jane Cheng
"Imitation as Innovation: The Imitatio Christi, 1450-1550"


Olujimi Tommasino
"Carras Conversion: Avant-Garde Painting from Revolution to Reaction"

Stephanie O’Rourke
"Rediscovered Frequently: The Waterfall Illusion and Motion Perception in Nineteenth Century Britain"


Caroline Schopp
"Monument and Counter-Monument: The Sculptural Libraries of Anselm Kiefer, Micha Ullman, and Rachel Whiteread"

Anna Fogel
"Marcus Garvey Village: Towards a New Housing Prototype"

Maggie Cao
"Reframing the Subject: Alfred Stiegliz`s Portraiture and the Legitimitization of Straight Photography"


Julian Rose
"Encountering Buildings, Reading Grammars: The Work of Dan Graham, 1966-1978"

Kristi Katherine Marks
"Algiers 1963: Le Parti Avant-garde et le Parti Pris Esthetique Avant-garde"

Kate Nesin
"Public Art for a Private Self: Time and the Viewer in the Sculpture of Richard Serra"

Jeffries Oliver-Li
"New World Order: Bloomsbury Ideology and the Critical Reception of John Singer Sargent" 

Molly MacKean
"Modernism and Tradition: The Architecture and Work of Kenzo Tange, 1949-1964"

Anna Piotrowska

"Let The Windowpane Be Art: The Role of Stephane Mallarme`s Poetry in Robert Delaunay`s Transition to Abstraction"

Jocelyn Chua
"The Shadow Box: Nam June Paik and the Ethnographer/Native Informant Oscillation"