Distinguished international scholar David Freedberg appointed Director of The Warburg Institute

Wednesday 4 March 2015

The University of London is pleased to announce the appointment of Professor David Freedberg as Director of The Warburg Institute with effect from July 2015.

Professor Freedberg is a highly distinguished scholar with an international career spanning more than forty years. He has taught at Columbia University since 1984 and is currently Pierre Matisse Professor of the History of Art as well as Director of the Italian Academy for Advanced Studies in America. His commitment to cross-disciplinary work in the sciences, anthropology and the arts was instrumental in the establishment of the Academy’s Neuroscience and Humanities project.

After studying classics at Yale University and gaining a DPhil from Oxford with his dissertation on Iconoclasm and Painting in the Revolt of the Netherlands, 1566–1609, the South African born academic worked at two University of London colleges, Westfield (now Queen Mary) and the Courtauld Institute of Art. He has amassed a formidable array of academic honours and awards and is the author of numerous articles and several books including The Eye of the Lynx: Galileo, His Friends, and the Beginnings of Modern Natural History and The Power of Images: Studies in the History and Theory of Response.

The Vice-Chancellor, the Dean and Chief Executive of the School of Advanced Study and Chair of the Warburg Institute’s Advisory Council are delighted that such a strong international scholar is to lead the Warburg into a strong future.

Professor Sir Adrian Smith, Vice-Chancellor of the University of London said: 'I am delighted that The Warburg Institute will have such a highly respected and knowledgeable director at its helm, and we welcome David back into the University of London where he began his career as a lecturer in the History of Art. He brings a wealth of both academic and executive knowledge and experience and I look forward to working with him to support the future of the Warburg.'

'Professor David Freedberg’s appointment is wonderful news for the University, the School of Advanced Study and, of course, The Warburg Institute itself,' said Professor Roger Kain, Pro-Vice-Chancellor (Research), Dean and Chief Executive of the School of Advanced Study. 'I look forward hugely to working with David to establish the Institute as the foremost centre for the study of the history and theory of culture in the world.'

Professor Margaret McGowan, CBE, FBA of the Warburg Advisory Council said: 'My colleagues and I are thrilled at the prospect of having Professor David Freedberg as Director of The Warburg, a place where he initially studied and where he returns bubbling with ideas and dynamism to make the Institute even more famous.'

On his appointment, Professor Freedberg said: 'The Warburg Institute is one of the great centres for the study of cultural history in the world. It has a distinguished past, and retains the potential to make a powerful contribution to interdisciplinary studies across the globe. The extraordinary intellectual vision of its founder remains critically relevant to current work in the humanities, and continues to offer exceptional – and still underexploited – opportunities to make The Warburg the leading institution for the revitalisation of the study of cultures in the 21st century.

'At the same time, it is poised to take the lead in the establishment of new paradigms for bringing together history, the social and natural sciences. I look forward to working together with the institutes in the School of Advanced Study, as well as with other leading research institutions across the globe, in the achievement of these ideals.'

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Notes for editors:

1. For further information, please contact: Kyla Njoku, Communications Officer, University of London + 44 (0)20 7862 8014 / kyla.njoku@london.ac.uk

Maureen McTaggart, Media and Public Relations Officer, School of Advanced Study + 44 (0) 20 7862 8859 / maureen.mctaggart@sas.ac.uk

2. The University of London is a federal University and is one of the oldest, largest and most diverse universities in the UK. Established by Royal Charter in 1836, the University is recognised globally as a world leader in Higher Education. It consists of 17 self-governing Colleges of outstanding reputation, together with a number of prestigious central academic bodies and activities. Learn more about the University of London at www.london.ac.uk

3. The School of Advanced Study (SAS), University of London, is the UK’s national centre for the promotion and support of research in the humanities and celebrates its 20th anniversary in 2015. It was officially opened on 15 March 1995, by Sir Anthony Kenny as a federation of the University of London’s research institutes and, since then, has established itself as the UK’s national humanities hub, publicly funded to support and promote research in the humanities nationally and internationally. SAS and its member institutes offer unparalleled academic opportunities, facilities and stimulation across a wide range of subject areas for the benefit of the national and international scholarly community. In 2013-14, SAS: welcomed 743 research fellows and associates; held 2,081 research dissemination events; received 26.4 million visits to its digital research resources and platforms; and received 202,891 visits to its
specialist libraries and collections. A series of anniversary events and activities will take place throughout 2015. Find out more at www.sas.ac.uk or follow SAS on Twitter at @SASNews.

4. The Warburg Institute, incorporated in the University in 1944, is concerned mainly with cultural history, art history and history of ideas, especially in the Renaissance. It aims to promote and conduct research on the interaction of cultures, using verbal and visual materials. It specialises in the influence of ancient Mediterranean traditions on European culture from the Middle Ages to the modern period. Its open–access library has outstanding strengths in Byzantine, Medieval and Renaissance art, Arabic, Medieval and Renaissance philosophy, the history of religion, science and magic, Italian history, the history of the classical tradition, and humanism. In several of these fields it can claim to be the most important library in the world. www.warburg.sas.ac.uk

5. Professor David Freedberg is Pierre Matisse Professor of the History of Art at Columbia University, where he teaches courses on 16th and 17th-century Flemish, Dutch and Italian Art, Theory and Criticism. His articles and studies focus on iconoclasm, censorship, the work of Peter Paul Rubens, Nicolas Poussin, Joseph Kosuth and others, and since 2000, he has been the director of the Italian Academy for Advanced Studies in America, also at Columbia. After his studies in South Africa, Yale and Oxford he was awarded a Dphil with his dissertation on Iconoclasm and Painting in the Revolt of the Netherlands, 1566–1609. Professor Freedberg is best known for his work on censorship, iconoclasm and psychological responses to images, as well as for his studies into the relationship between art and science. In his recent research he deals with the significance of cognitive neurosciences for the understanding of art and images and researches the intersection of movement, embodiment and emotion. He is a fellow at the American Academy of Arts and Sciences, the American Philosophical Society and a member for the scientific advisory board of the Wissenschaftskolleg zu Berlin. Professor Freedberg has also written significant studies on Cassiano del Pozzo and Aby Warburg. A selection of his articles and shorter books are available for download and can be found on his profile page at Columbia University.