On April 18, 2018 Bard Graduate Center presented the 22nd Annual Iris Foundation Awards at a sold-out luncheon held at the Colony Club in New York City. Click here to view the invitation.

Iris 2018

Founded on the belief that the decorative arts, design history, and material culture are unique academic areas unto themselves, Bard Graduate Center is committed not only to research but also to advocacy and the visibility of the discipline. To further this mission, in 1997 Susan Weber launched the Iris Foundation Awards which are presented to individuals whose scholarship, connoisseurship, and dedication have advanced the understanding of this important field among scholars, collectors, professionals, and the general public.


The Annual Iris Foundation Awards luncheon brings together the design and academic communities to honor outstanding individuals who have contributed to the study and appreciation of the decorative arts, design history, and material culture. The event also includes a lecture by the Outstanding Mid-Career Scholar. This year’s topic, presented by honoree Dr. Jason Sun, was entitled, “The First Emperor, the Chinese Empire, and the Wider World: Art and Material Culture of the Qin Dynasty”.

More on 2018’s recipients:

Outstanding Patron, John C. Waddell

For the past forty years, John C. Waddell has formed collections that explore the advent of modernism. In 1989, his collection of early modernist photographs was donated to the Metropolitan Museum of Art and exhibited as The New Vision: Photography Between the World Wars. His first collection of modern design and decorative arts, donated to the Met in 2000, was exhibited as American Modern, 1925–1940: Design for a New Age. In 2011, he donated a second design collection, focusing on the earliest examples of American modern design and decorative arts, to the Yale University Art Gallery. It is featured in Yale’s catalogue A Modern World: American Design from the Yale University Art Gallery, 1920 –1950.

Lifetime Achievement in Scholarship, Dr. Aileen Ribeiro

Dr. Aileen Ribeiro is a specialist in fashion and costume history who has shared her knowledge in lecture appearances throughout Great Britain, Europe, and North America. She holds a degree in history from King’s College London, an MA and PhD from the Courtauld Institute of Art, and has been on the faculty of the Courtauld as well as the University of London. Ribeiro has published many books and articles. The most recent include: A Portrait of Fashion: Six Centuries of Dress at the National Portrait Gallery (2015), and Clothing Art: The Visual Culture of Fashion 1600–1914 (2017); essays on dress in the work of Liotard in Jean-Etienne Liotard (National Gallery of Scotland and the Royal Academy of Arts 2015), and on clothing in Renoir’s Luncheon of the Boating Party (Phillips Collection, Washington 2017).

Outstanding Mid-Career Scholar, Dr. Jason Sun

Dr. Jason Sun is the Brooke Russell Astor Curator of Chinese Art in the Department of Asian Art at the Metropolitan Museum of Art. He received his PhD in Chinese Art and Archaeology from Princeton University and was the E. Rhodes and Leona B. Carpenter Curator of East Asian Art at the Virginia Museum of Fine Art before joining the Metropolitan in 1999. Dr. Sun has curated The Bishop Jades, Excellence and Elegance: Decorative Art of the Eighteenth Century Qing Court, Small Delight: Chinese Snuff Bottles, Colors of the Universe: Chinese Hardstone Carvings, and the 2017 landmark exhibition Age of Empires: Chinese Art of the Qin and Dynasties (221 B.C.–A.D. 220). He worked with James Watt, former chairman of the Asian Art Department, on two seminal exhibitions: China: Dawn of a Golden Age, and The World of Khubilai Khan: Chinese Art in the Yuan Dynasty. Sun has lectured and published widely on a variety of subjects including Chinese jade carving, metalwork, calligraphy, archaeology, and museum studies.

Outstanding Dealer, Benoist F. Drut

Benoist F. Drut developed an interest in collecting early on in his native France. At fifteen, he met acclaimed dealer Thierry Millerand who advised him on how to become a successful dealer. After finishing his law degree in Paris, Drut moved to New York, taking a job with eighteenth-century furniture collector, Roger Prigent. A chance meeting with Gerard Widdershoven brought him to Maison Gerard where he became his business partner. Today, Drut, as sole owner, continues to preserve the welcoming character Widdershoven fostered in the seventies: “the gallery is not merely a place for design, but a place where design lives; not only where the old and new coexist seamlessly, but where it is easy to feel at home amongst the beauty of both.”