Warburg Institute to establish world’s first chair in history of art, science and folk practice

Thursday 19 January 2017

The Warburg Institute has been awarded $530,000 by the Andrew W. Mellon Foundation to establish a chair in the history of art, science and folk practice and an associated post-doctoral research position.

The new professorship will be critical in restoring, developing and elaborating the theoretical, cultural historical and anthropological implications of the work of Aby Warburg, the founder of the institute. It will inspire the kinds of cross-disciplinary work that will help revitalise the possibilities of research in the humanities.

This welcome support from the Mellon Foundation enables the Warburg Institute to strengthen its pre-eminence in the study of the historical, psychological, anthropological and political dimensions of culture and the transmission of cultural forms across literature, art, music and science. 

The director of the Warburg Professor David Freedberg, said: ‘The Warburg Institute is immensely grateful to the Andrew W. Mellon Foundation for its generous grant enabling the establishment of a new chair in history of art, history of science and folk practice – the first chair of its kind in the world.

‘Based on two major areas of Aby Warburg’s influential research that are still strong at the institute, the chair also provides for the necessary anthropological and sociological grounding in popular culture – as envisaged by Warburg and ever more relevant in our own time.

‘The scope of the new position will be global in its range but local in its attentiveness to regional detail and contexts. This is a moment in which the Warburg’s engagement with the interactions between Islamic and Christian cultures is being extended to other areas of the world as well, both Western and Eastern, Northern and Southern. The Mellon grant will enable this strengthening of our core mission. We are honoured that the Mellon Foundation has recognised our potential to further expand areas of research pioneered at the institute and long facilitated by its incomparable library.’

Notes to Editors

1. For all enquiries, please contact: Maureen McTaggart, Media and Public Relations Officer, School of Advanced Study, University of London +44 (0)20 7862 8859 / maureen.mctaggart@sas.ac.uk.

2. The Warburg Institute. The Warburg Institute, which is a constituent institute of the School of Advanced Study, University of London, is the premier institute for the study of cultural history and the role of images in culture. It is dedicated to the history of ideas, the dissemination and transformation of images in society, and the relationship between images, art, and their texts and subtexts, of all epochs and across the globe. Find out more at www.warburg.sas.ac.uk or @Warburg_News

3. The Andrew W. Mellon Foundation. Founded in 1969, the Andrew W. Mellon Foundation endeavors to strengthen, promote, and, where necessary, defend the contributions of the humanities and the arts to human flourishing and to the well-being of diverse and democratic societies by supporting exemplary institutions of higher education and culture as they renew and provide access to an invaluable heritage of ambitious, path-breaking work. Additional information is available at mellon.org.

4. 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. 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 2015-16, SAS: welcomed 786 research fellows and associates; held 2,007 research dissemination events; received 24.4 million visits to its digital research resources and platforms; and received 194,145 visits to its specialist libraries and collections. The School also leads the UK’s only nationwide festival of the humanities: Being Human. Find out more at www.sas.ac.uk or follow SAS on Twitter at @SASNews.

5. 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. Its members are 18 self-governing institutions of outstanding reputation, and nine research institutes. Learn more about the University of London at http://www.london.ac.uk