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Michael Podro

(b Hannover, March 30, 1892; d Princeton, NJ, March 14, 1968).

German art historian, active in the USA. He wrote primarily on late medieval and Renaissance art in northern Europe and Italy, mostly, but by no means exclusively, on painting.

Panofsky’s doctoral dissertation (1915) was on the relation of Dürer’s theory of art to that in Renaissance Italy; in 1923 he and Fritz Saxl published a study of Dürer’s engraving Melencolia I. In 1926 he became the first professor of art history at the new university of Hamburg, where he was closely involved with Ernst Cassirer (1874–1945), the professor of philosophy, and with Saxl and Aby Warburg at the Bibliothek Warburg. Panofsky’s name is often narrowly associated with the search for the subject-matter of paintings through reference to traditional imagery and literature. However, his writing always involved a much more ambitious and coherent mode of critical interpretation: he sought consistently to place individual works of art in relation to what he took to be an underlying aspect of the human situation, the reciprocity between ‘objectivity’—our receptive relation to the external world—and ‘subjectivity’—the constructive activity of our thought....

Article

[Meir]

(b Siauliai, Lithuania, Sept 23, 1904; d New York, March 3, 1996).

American art historian, critic, and teacher of Lithuanian birth. An archetypal Jewish émigré, he arrived in the USA at the age of three. In 1920 he entered Columbia College, New York, where, having concluded that he would never succeed as a practising artist, he studied languages, mathematics, literature, anthropology, philosophy, and art history. He received his BA in art history and philosophy in 1924. His doctoral dissertation, on the early 12th-century cloister and portal of the abbey of St Pierre, Moissac, in south-western France, was accepted by Columbia in 1929. Two years later part of his dissertation was published in the Art Bulletin, from which time Schapiro was widely acknowledged as a scholar of Romanesque sculpture. However, his interests were always more wide-ranging, and from an early age he was committed to the ‘deep connections of art with the totality of culture’. He was equally renowned for his knowledge of 19th- and early 20th-century art, as well as for his friendships with contemporary artists. He was also one of the first art historians influenced by literary criticism, leading to his publication in ...