Former PhD at the Warburg Institute student Alison Cole has had an exciting and varied career in the arts; from being Executive Director for some of the UK’s leading cultural organisations, including The Art Fund, Southbank Centre and Arts Council England, to her current position as Editor of The Art Newspaper. Alongside this she is also an established author and journalist, writing books on art history (her latest book on Michelangelo was published by the Royal Academy in March 2017), editing art journals, drafting policy, reviewing exhibitions and writing reviews and features for well-known publications such as The Independent and The Arts Desk.
What did you study during your time at the Warburg Institute?
Like all Warburgians, I learned how to be a Renaissance “man” – or “woman”. I did the M.Phil course over two years; my thesis was on Quattrocento Landscape depiction.
Did your experience at the Warburg Institute help to equip you for your career?
I think it gave me an enduring intellectual curiosity and breadth of reference. And it taught me to always ask questions and to look for the answers in unexpected places… but not necessarily to trust the places you ended up in.
What did you enjoy most about studying at the Warburg?
The wonderful eccentricity of the programme and the individualistic approach of the tutors – plus some of the brilliant minds that I encountered while there. And, of course, the library, with all its serendipity. I have very fond memories, too, of working with Jennifer Montagu and Ruth Rubinstein in the picture library – they were both so kind.
Would you recommend the Warburg Institute as a place of study and why?
Yes, absolutely – it is a wonderful place to ingest the best of middle European culture and intellectual thought, and to make surprising connections. I am looking forward to the new café, too!
Read the Life After Warburg Blog for a full interview with Alison to find out about highlights of her career and her memories of studying at the Warburg.