Professor David Freedberg Named Director of the Warburg Institute

March 24, 2015
 David Freedberg will be director of the Warburg Instititue at the University of London.

David Freedberg will be director of the Warburg Instititue at the University of London.

David Freedberg, the Pierre Matisse professor of art history and director of the Italian Academy, was named director of the Warburg Institute of the University of London, beginning in July.

He will continue as director of the Italian Academy and as a member of the Department of Art History and Archaeology at Columbia. Freedberg, who earned a B.A. at Yale and a D. Phil at Oxford, taught at two University of London colleges before coming to Columbia in 1984. Best known for his work on psychological responses to art, his current research concentrates on relationships between art, history and cognitive neuroscience.

The Warburg Institute is “an extraordinary resource for the study of cultural history and theory,” said Provost John Coatsworth, and as director Freedberg “will seek to establish links between Columbia, the Warburg and other major institutions in these critical areas of study across the globe."

The Institute grew from the large private library established by art historian Aby Warburg in Hamburg, Germany in 1900. It was moved to London in 1933 and became affiliated with the University of London in 1944. In its announcement of Freedberg’s appointment, the University of London noted his commitment to interdisciplinary work in the sciences, anthropology and the arts.

“I’m humbled to have been named director of the Warburg Institute, one of the most illustrious institutions for the study of cultural history and theory in the world,” said Freedberg. “It has a long tradition of seeking to understand the engines of cultural transmission and difference. It offers extraordinary potential for innovative rethinking of the relationship between science, the arts and society.”

—By Georgette Jasen