Image Credit: Maurice Weiss

The Clark Art Institute has selected Bénédicte Savoy as the recipient of the 2024 Clark Prize for Excellence in Arts Writing. Savoy is a professor of art history at Technische Universität in Berlin and is a noted expert on the provenance and repatriation of works of art, including looted art and other forms of illegally acquired cultural objects.

Savoy has taught art history in French and German universities and colleges since 1997. In addition to her teaching career, Savoy is the author of more than 25 books and countless articles for international journals and magazines. Her book Africa’s Struggle for Its Art: History of a Postcolonial Defeat, originally published in 2021, has been reprinted in multiple languages and has strongly influenced the debate on restitution. Savoy has also curated or co-curated several museum exhibitions including Wilhelm and Alexander von Humboldt at Deutsches Historisches Museum in Berlin (2019-2020); Museum visions: The Competition to Expand the Berlin Museum Island in 1883/84 at Bauakademie Berlin (2015); The Humboldt Brothers: Europe of the Spirit at Observatoire de Paris (2014); and Napoleon and Europe: Dream and Trauma at the Art and Exhibition Hall of the Federal Republic of Germany, Bonn (2010).

In 2018, French President Emanuel Macron commissioned Savoy and Senegalese writer and academic Felwine Sarr to study and provide recommendations related to African cultural heritage objects held in French museum collections. The resulting report called for permanent repatriation of objects looted from African nations during the French colonial era. Savoy and Sarr were named as two of Time magazine’s “100 Most Influential People of 2021” in recognition of their work. In 2022, Macron named Savoy as a chevalier in the Legion d'Honneur for her contributions to French art and culture.