- Erwin Panofsky
Erwin Panofsky (also spelled Irwin Panofsky) (
30 March 1892- 14 March 1968) was a German Jewish art historianwho emigrated to America and remains highly influential in the modern academic study of iconography. Many of his works remain in print, including "Studies in Iconology : Humanist Themes in the Art of the Renaissance" (1939, reissued 1972), and his study of Albrecht Dürer.
Erwin Panofsky was born in
Hanover, Germany. He studied at the universities of Berlin, Munich, and Freiburg, receiving his Ph.D. in 1914 from the University of Freiburg. His academic career in art historytook him to the universities of Berlin, Munich, and finally Hamburg, where he taught from 1920 to 1933. It is during this period when his first major writings on art history begin to appear.
Panofsky first came the United States in 1931 to teach at
New York University. Though initially allowed to spend alternate terms in Hamburgand New York, after the Naziscame to power in Germany he remained permanently in the United States. By 1934 he was teaching concurrently at New York Universityand Princeton University. In 1935, he was invited to join the faculty of the newly formed Institute for Advanced Studyin Princeton. Panofsky was a member of the American Academy of Arts and Sciences, the British Academyand a number of other national academies. In 1962 he received the Haskins Medalof The Medieval Academy of America.
Panofsky became particularly well-known for his studies of symbols and iconography within works of art. First in a 1934 article, then in his "Early Netherlandish Painting", Panofsky is the first to interpret
Jan van Eyck's Arnolfini Portrait(London, National Gallery) as not only a depiction of a wedding ceremony, but also a visual contract testifying to the act of marriage. Panofsky identifies a plethora of hidden symbols that all point to the sacrament of marriage. In recent years, this conclusion has been challenged. And yet, Panofsky's work with what he called "hidden" or "disguised" symbolism are still very much influential in the study and understanding of Northern Renaissance Art.
His work has greatly influenced the theory of taste developed by French
sociologist Pierre Bourdieu, in books such as "The Rules of Art" or "Distinction".
Three Strata of Subject Matter or Meaning
In his 1939 work "Studies in Iconology", (also published in various later redactions) Panofsky details his idea of three levels of art-historical understanding Panofsky, Erwin. "Studies in Iconology: Humanistic Themes in the Art of the Renaissance." New York: Harper & Row, 1972. pp. 5-9.] :
*Primary or Natural Subject Matter: The most basic level of understanding, this strata consists of perception of the work’s pure form. Take, for example, a painting of
The Last Supper. If we stopped at this first strata, such a picture could only be perceived as a painting of 13 men seated at a table. This first level is the most basic understanding of a work, devoid of any added cultural knowledge.
*Secondary or Conventional subject matter (Iconography): This strata goes a step further and brings to the equation cultural and iconographic knowledge. For example, a western viewer would understand that the painting of 13 men around a table would represent
The Last Supper. Similarly, seeing a representation of a haloed man with a lion could be interpreted as a depiction of St. Jerome.
*Intrinsic Meaning or Content (Iconology): This level takes into account personal, technical, and cultural history into the understanding of a work. It looks at art not as an isolated incident, but as the product of a historical environment. Working in this strata, the art historian can ask questions like “why did the artist choose to represent
The Last Supperin this way?” or “Why was St. Jeromesuch an important saint to the patron of this work?” Essentially, this last strata is a synthesis; it's the art historian asking "what does it all mean?"
For Panofsky, it was important to consider all three strata as one examines renaissance art. Irving Lavin says, "it was this insistence on, and search for, meaning-- especially in places where no one suspected there was any-- that led Panofsky to understand art, as no previous historian had, as an intellectual endeavor on a par with the traditional liberal arts.Lavin, Irving. "Panofsky's History of Art" in "Meaning in the Visual Arts: Views from the Outside." Princeton: Institute for Advanced Study, 1995. p. 6.]
Panofsky was known to be friends with
Wolfgang Pauli, one of the main contributors to quantum physics and atomic theory, as well as Albert Einstein. His son, Wolfgang K. H. Panofsky, became a renowned physicist who specialized in particle accelarators. His other son was a meteorologist. As Wolfgang Panofsky related, their father used to call his sons "meine beiden Klempner" (German: "my two plumbers"), which revealed the usual attitude of the German elite educated in the humanities, who looked down upon those trained in the sciences.
* "Idea: A Concept in Art Theory" (1924)
* "Perspective as Symbolic Form" (1927)
* "Studies in Iconology" (1939)
* "The Life and Art of Albrecht Dürer" (1943)
* "Gothic Architecture and Scholasticism" (1951)
* "Early Netherlandish Painting" (1953)
* "Meaning in the Visual Arts" (1955)
* "Pandora's Box: the Changing Aspects of a Mythical Symbol" (1956) (with Dora Panofsky)
* "Renaissance and Renascences in Western Art" (1962)
* "Tomb Sculpture" (1964)
* "Problems in Titian, mostly iconographic" (1969)
*Holly, Michael Ann, "Panofsky and the Foundations of Art History", Ithaca, Cornell University Press, (1985)
*Ferretti, Sylvia," Cassirer, Panofsky, Warburg: Symbol, Art, and History," New Haven, Yale University Press, (1989)
*Lavin, Irving, editor, "Meaning in the Visual Arts: View from the Outside. A Centennial Commemoration of Erwin Panofsky (1892-1968)", Princeton, Institute of Advanced Study, (1995)
*Panofsky, Erwin, & Lavin, Irving (Ed.), "Three essays on style", Cambridge, MA, MIT Press, (1995)
* [http://www.kirjasto.sci.fi/panof.htm Biography]
* [http://www.aaa.si.edu/collections/findingaids/panoerwi.htm Erwin Panofsky Papers at the Smithsonian's Archives of American Art]
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Erwin Panofsky — (* 30. März 1892 in Hannover; † 14. März 1968 in Princeton, New Jersey, USA) war ein Kunsthistoriker, der die Ikonologie wesentlich weiterentwickelte. Inhaltsverzeichnis 1 Leben 2 Wissenschaftliche Leistung … Deutsch Wikipedia
Erwin Panofsky — Erwin Panofsky, né le 30 mars 1892, à Hanovre en Allemagne et mort le 14 mars 1968, à Princeton aux États Unis, est un historien de l art et un essayiste allemand d origine juive émigré aux États Unis. Sommaire 1 Biographie 2 … Wikipédia en Français
Erwin Panofsky — Saltar a navegación, búsqueda Melancolía, de Alberto Durero Erwin Panofsky (Hannover, 30 de marzo de 1892 Princeton (Nueva Jersey), 14 de marzo de 1968) fue un historiador del arte y … Wikipedia Español
Erwin Panofsky — noun art historian (1892 1968) • Syn: ↑Panofsky • Instance Hypernyms: ↑art historian … Useful english dictionary
Panofsky — Erwin Panofsky Erwin Panofsky (le 30 mars 1892 à Hanovre, Allemagne le 14 mars 1968 à Princeton) est un historien de l art et un essayiste allemand d origine juive émigré aux États Unis. Sommaire 1 Biographie 2 Ses apports … Wikipédia en Français
PANOFSKY, ERWIN — (1892–1968), U.S. art historian. Born in Hanover, Germany, he studied at universities in Berlin, Munich, and Breslau, receiving his Ph.D. from the University of Freiburg in 1914. He taught at the University of Hamburg from 1926 to 1933. After the … Encyclopedia of Judaism
PANOFSKY (E.) — PANOFSKY ERWIN (1892 1968) Loin de considérer l’histoire de l’art comme le simple récit événementiel de la succession des œuvres et des artistes à travers la juxtaposition des catalogues et des biographies, Erwin Panofsky a voulu le dernier peut… … Encyclopédie Universelle
Panofsky — may refer to one of the following:People* Erwin Panofsky, an art historian * Wolfgang K. H. Panofsky, a German American physicist, a son of Erwin PanofskyOther* Panofsky Prize awarded in the field of particle physics * Panofsky Ratio, a quantity… … Wikipedia
Panofsky — ist der Familienname folgender Personen: Erwin Panofsky (1892–1968), deutsch US amerikanischer Kunsthistoriker Eugen Panofsky (1855–1922), deutsch jüdischer Bankier und Berliner Kommunalpolitiker Wolfgang Panofsky (1919–2007), US amerikanischer… … Deutsch Wikipedia
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