Saltz had been a finalist twice before, in 2001 and 2006. The Pulitzer board commended him for “a robust body of work that conveyed a canny and often daring perspective on visual art in America, encompassing the personal, the political, the pure and the profane.” Saltz published a deeply personal essay last year, “My Life As a Failed Artist
,” in which he related his own aborted artistic career to his development as a critic, writing, “outsiders often see the art world as a fashionable never-ending party, buffered from reality by money. Having been an artist, I see it very differently. I see myself as part of this great broken beautiful art-world family of gypsies, searching and yearning and in pain — and under pressure, doing things that they have
to do.” Saltz’s accessible personality and language gave him wider audience that spanned art world insiders and casual art lovers; he also makes prolific use of social media, where he has an avid following.