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.
Comprehensive List of Abramson Prize Winners
Audrey Pettner, for her thesis entitled, "Rivers as Inroads, Rivers as Homeland: Analyzing the Hidden Actor in Frans Post’s Brazilian Riverscapes"
Yael Saiger, for her thesis entitled, “Creating Marble, Chasing Divinity: Depictions of Marble in Fifteenth-century Italian Panel Painting”
Elizabeth Keto, for her thesis entitled, “Writing and Rewriting Conceptual Art: Hanne Darboven’s ‘Mathematical Prose’, 1966 – 1976”
Maille Radford, for her thesis entitled, “Pop Plastic : Richard Hamilton’s Guggenheim Reliefs from a Chemical and Historical Perspective”
Adela Kim, for her thesis entitled, “Beyond the Labyrinth : Duchamp’s Subversive Criticism in the Rotoreliefs (1935-1965)”
Erica Eisen, for her thesis entitled, “From Curios to Collectibles: Yamanaka Sadajiro and the Politics of the Changing Asian Art Canon.”
Eleanor Westwood Wilkinson, for her thesis entitled, “Dangerous Visions: Idolatry as Metaphor in Late Nineteenth-Century American Realism.”
Honor Wilkinson, for her thesis entitled, “Ruins and Remembrance: The Transformation of Function and Evolution of Collective Memory at Fountains Abbey and Whitby Abbey.”
Kristie La, for her thesis entitled, “Enlightenment, Advertising, Education, etc.”: Herbert Bayer and The Museum of Modern Art’s “Road to Victory”
Lucy Andersen, for her thesis entitled, “The Past is a Foreign Country: Historicist Implications of Osman Hamdi Bey’s Orientalist Vision”
Davida Fernandez-Barkan, for her thesis entitled, “The Many Faces of Malevich’s Return to Figuration, 1928-34”
Justin Davidson, for his thesis entitled, “Gridlocked: Peter Eisenman in Berlin”
Richard Taylor, for his thesis entitled, “The Propylon of Ptolemy II : Architecture and Experience at the Sanctuary of the Great Gods, Samothrace”
Olujimi Tommasino, for his thesis entitled, “Carra’s Conversion : Avant-Garde Painting from Revolution to Reaction.”
Jane Cheng, for her thesis entitled, “Imitation as Innovation : The Imitatio Christi, 1450-1550”
Stephanie O’Rourke, for her thesis entitled, “Rediscovered Frequently : The Waterfall Illusion and Motion Perception in Nineteenth-Century Britain”
Caroline Schopp, for her thesis entitled, “Monument and Counter-Monument: The sculptural Libraries of Anselm Kiefer, Micha Ullman, and Rachel Whiteread”
Anna Fogel for her thesis entitled, “Marcus Garvey Village: Towards A New Housing Prototype”
Maggie Cao for her thesis entitled, “Reframing the Subject: Alfred Stieglitz’s Portraiture and the Legitimization of Straight Photography”
Julian Rose for his thesis entitled, “Encountering Buildings, Reading Grammars: The Work of Dan Graham, 1966-1978"
Kristi Katherine Marks, for her thesis entitled, “Algiers 1963: Le Parti Avant-garde et le Parti Pris Esthetique Avant-garde”
Kate Nesin, for her thesis entitled, “Public Art for a Private Self: Time and the Viewer in the Sculpture of Richard Serra”
Jeffries Oliver-Li for his thesis entitled, “New World Order: Bloomsbury Ideology and the Critical Reception of John Singer Sargent.”
Molly MacKean for her thesis, “Modernism and Tradition: The Architecture and Work of Kenzo Tange, 1949-1964”
Anna Piotrowska for her thesis, “Let the Windowpane Be Art: The Role of Stephane Mallarme’s Poetry in Robert Delaunay’s Transition to Abstraction.”
Jocelyn Chua, for her thesis, “The Shadow Box: Nam June Paik and the Ethnographer/Native Informant Oscillation”