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In Cambridge

Peter Campbell: The Cambridge Illuminations: Ten Centuries of Book Production in the Medieval West, 18 August 2005

... Binski quotes ‘one of the most famous (and controversial) put-downs in the history of art’, by Erwin Panofsky: ‘It has been said that book illumination was killed by the invention of printing; but it had already begun to commit suicide by converting itself into painting. Even without Gutenberg it would have died of an overdose of ...

I Love You Still

Russell Jacoby, 9 February 1995

Intellectuals in Exile: Refugee Scholars and the New School for Social Research 
by Claus-Dieter Krohn, translated by Rita Kimber and Robert Kimber.
Massachusetts, 255 pp., $15.95, July 1994, 0 87023 864 7
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... without Kurt Wolff or Theodore Schocken; architecture without Walter Gropius; art history without Erwin Panofsky; mathematics without Kurt Gödel; physics without Enrico Fermi – and the list goes on and on. Of course, not every refugee intellectual caused cultural waves. Karl Korsch, for instance, a leading German Marxist, found no role in American ...

In a Forest of Two-Dimensional Bears

Arthur C. Danto, 9 April 1992

Perspective as Symbolic Form 
by Erwin Panofsky, translated by Christoper Wood.
Zone, 196 pp., £20.50, January 1992, 0 942299 52 3
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The Language of Art History 
edited by Salim Kemal and Ivan Gaskell.
Cambridge, 245 pp., £32.50, December 1991, 9780521353847
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... in a complex of inter-related symbolic systems: language, myth, religion, science, art and ethics. Erwin Panofsky’s stunning essay was in a sense a long and learned footnote to Cassirer’s monumental The Philosophy of Symbolic Forms. And though Panofsky has a vivid sense of historical otherness and difference where ...

This Strange Speech

Christopher S. Wood: Early Dürer, 18 July 2013

The Early Dürer 
edited by Daniel Hess and Thomas Eser, translated by Lance Anderson et al.
Thames and Hudson, 604 pp., £40, August 2012, 978 0 500 97037 9
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... Nationalmuseum a year before the Munich Olympics, took up at long last the cue offered by Erwin Panofsky in The Life and Art of Albrecht Dürer, published in 1943, still the gold standard among art historical monographs. That exhibition offered a non-chauvinistic picture of an intellectually alert and internationally oriented polymath. Last ...
Hans Memling: The Complete Works 
by Dirk de Vos.
Thames and Hudson, 431 pp., £95, October 1994, 0 500 23698 4
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... that Memling was neither an explorer like Van Eyck nor an inventor like Rogier van der Weyden. And Erwin Panofsky cleverly called him ‘the very model of a major minor master’. De Vos does not really disagree. That is how he, too, tends to define and defend Memling. He steadfastly refuses to make claims for his originality except as a portraitist or a ...


Anthony Grafton: Warburg, 1 April 1999

... many traditional assumptions about the independence of intellectual disciplines. Ernst Cassirer, Erwin Panofsky, Edgar Wind and many others who joined the new university in Hamburg in the Twenties did remarkable research work here before 1933, when the Institute’s members fled, along with its books, to London. Warburg himself had died in 1929, the ...

Gloomy Sunday Afternoons

Caroline Maclean: Modernists at the Movies, 10 September 2009

The Tenth Muse: Writing about Cinema in the Modernist Period 
by Laura Marcus.
Oxford, 562 pp., £39, December 2007, 978 0 19 923027 3
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... out of work by the coming of the sound era, only to find his voice again at Nazi party meetings. Erwin Panofsky remembered the ‘weird and spectral feeling’ that would come over the auditorium when the pianist left his ‘post’ for a few minutes, and the film ‘was allowed to run by itself, the darkness haunted by the monotonous rattle of the ...

After the White Cube

Hal Foster, 19 March 2015

... art museum, is also fundamental to art history ‘as a humanistic discipline’, whose mission, Erwin Panofsky wrote 75 years ago, is to ‘enliven what otherwise would remain dead’. Here the proper retort in our time comes from the art historian Amy Knight Powell: ‘Neither institution nor individual can restore life to an object that never had ...

Fire the press secretary

Jerry Fodor, 28 April 2011

Why Everyone (Else) Is a Hypocrite: Evolution and the Modular Mind 
by Robert Kurzban.
Princeton, 274 pp., £19.95, January 2011, 978 0 691 14674 4
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... in philosophy and of the New Look psychology of Jerome Bruner and Mitchell Ash. The art historian Erwin Panofsky made much of it, and the popular press swallowed it whole. The long and short is: one sees what one believes at least as much as the other way around. One views the world from the perspective of the ‘paradigms’ to which one is antecedently ...

Do you want the allegory?

Charles Hope, 17 March 1983

Piero della Francesca’s ‘Baptism of Christ’ 
by Marilyn Aronberg Lavin.
Yale, 182 pp., £19.50, January 1982, 0 300 02619 6
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Indagini su Piero 
by Carlo Ginzburg.
Einaudi, 110 pp.
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Gentile da Fabriano 
by Keith Christiansen.
Chatto, 193 pp., £35, June 1982, 0 7011 2468 7
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... was initially associated with early Netherlandish painting. The most influential figure here was Erwin Panofsky, who popularised the notion of disguised symbolism: the idea that the seemingly realistic details which abound in Flemish pictures are theologically meaningful. That painters in Flanders did sometimes intend elements in their work to be read ...

Preposterous Timing

Hal Foster: Medieval Modern Art, 8 November 2012

Medieval Modern: Art out of Time 
by Alexander Nagel.
Thames and Hudson, 312 pp., £29.95, November 2012, 978 0 500 23897 4
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Depositions: Scenes from the Late Medieval Church and the Modern Museum 
by Amy Knight Powell.
Zone, 369 pp., £24.95, May 2012, 978 1 935408 20 8
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... anachronism has various motives. Within art history it registers a turn away from the thinking of Erwin Panofsky, who privileged the historical perspective permitted by a clear demarcation of period styles, and towards the writing of Aby Warburg, a fellow German who was obsessed with the unexpected eruption of ancient forms of extreme expression in ...

It looks nothing like me

Adam Smyth: Dürer, 5 July 2018

Albrecht Dürer: Documentary Biography 
by Jeffrey Ashcroft.
Yale, 1216 pp., £95, January 2017, 978 0 300 21084 2
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... a wealthy humanist scholar, diplomat and politician, a figure possessed (according to Erwin Panofsky) of a ‘bulldog head’, and a man who for Dürer combined the roles of surrogate father, tutor of classical mythology, door-opening mentor, and something like dorm-mate (‘doing your smooth-tongued act’ is the way Dürer described ...

Botticelli and the Built-in Bed

Anthony Grafton: The Italian Renaissance, 2 April 1998

Behind the Picture: Art and Evidence in Italian Renaissance 
by Martin Kemp.
Yale, 304 pp., £25, November 1997, 0 300 07195 7
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... itself against some of the main trends in art history since World War Two. Almost fifty years ago, Erwin Panofsky stood up to defend the Renaissance before a gathering of scholars at the Metropolitan Museum in New York. It was the climacteric of the ‘revolt of the medievalists’, the movement whose followers argued that the Middle Ages had already made ...

Naming the Graces

Charles Hope, 15 March 1984

The Art of Humanism 
by Kenneth Clark.
Murray, 198 pp., £12.50, October 1983, 0 7195 4077 1
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The Eloquence of Symbols: Studies in Humanist Art 
by Edgar Wind, edited by Jaynie Anderson.
Oxford, 135 pp., £25, January 1984, 0 19 817341 5
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... of Renaissance imagery, like that of a much greater scholar with whom he is commonly associated, Erwin Panofsky, depended on the fascination and universal applicability of his method. The present volume, mostly devoted to his relatively early publications, is of interest principally because it illuminates the origins of his approach. In fact the ...
The Embarrassment of Riches: An Interpretation of Dutch Culture in the Golden Age 
by Simon Schama.
Collins, 698 pp., £19.95, September 1987, 9780002178013
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... makes me uneasy. Iconography is a notoriously controversial art. The confidence of the age of Erwin Panofsky and Edgar Wind has given way to doubt and conflict. In no area is this latterday dispute between iconoclasts and iconodules so vigorous or so sharp as in the field of 17th-century Dutch art, long taken to be a paradigm case of descriptive ...

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