Erwin Panofsky

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The following article is from The Great Soviet Encyclopedia (1979). It might be outdated or ideologically biased.

Panofsky, Erwin


Born Mar. 30, 1892, in Hanover; died Mar. 14, 1968, in Princeton, N.J. German-American art historian. Professor in Hamburg from 1926 to 1933 and at Princeton beginning in 1935.

Panofsky—influenced by the Vienna school of art studies (M. Dvořák, A. Riegl), as well as by the teachings of E. Cassirer on “symbolic forms”—together with A. Warburg and F. Saxl provided the foundation for the iconological approach to the study of works of art. Striving to overcome the one-sidedness of both the stylistic and the purely iconographic approaches, he proposed that a work of art be considered as a characteristic manifestation—a sign or “symptom”—of a cultural-historical situation, which is reflected not only in the choice of the subject but also in the artistic style. In his research, which was devoted mainly to medieval and Renaissance art, Panofsky analyzed peculiarities of form within the context of a philological and historical-philosophical interpretation of the content.


Studies in Iconology. Oxford, 1939. New edition, New York [1962].
Meaning in the Visual Arts. Garden City, 1957.
Aufsätze zu Grundfragen der Kunstwissenschaft. Berlin, 1964.


Libman, M. Ia. “Ikonologiia.” In the collection Sovremennoe iskusstvoznanie za rubezhom: Ocherki. Moscow, 1964. Pages 62–76.
Bialostocki, J. “Erwin Panofsky (1892–1968), myśliciel, historyk, człowiek.” In E. Panofsky, Studia z historii sztuki. Warsaw, 1971.
The Great Soviet Encyclopedia, 3rd Edition (1970-1979). © 2010 The Gale Group, Inc. All rights reserved.
References in periodicals archive ?
"Erwin Panofsky and the Renascence of the Renaissance." Renaissance Quarterly 47 (1994): 255-81.
I have mentioned Cassirer's book in part because it became so important, but also because Cassirer, like his former colleague in Hamburg, Erwin Panofsky, was among the German scholars who seemed almost upon their arrival in America to embody the meaning of the humanities and the cultural tradition of the West.
However, in recent years these literary works have been reconsidered, beginning with the central, interdisciplinary essay by Erwin Panofsky (1954) and followed by the illuminating studies by Raffaele Colapietra (1956), Maurizio Costanzo (1976), Dante Della Terza (1979) and Antonio Marzo (Galilei, 2001).
In the much-quoted essay, "Perspective as a Symbolic Form," published in German in the '20s, the great art historian, Erwin Panofsky quoted serious controversies, asserting that the linear perspective is a symbolic form--a system of conventions, placed in the historical plan, towards the representation of the imitative space, a system reflecting the dominant vision on the universe, on a cultural plane, in the Italian Renaissance era.
Her book also belongs beside such classic studies of melancholy and the artist, as the works by Raymond Klibansky, Erwin Panofsky, and Fritz Saxl, Saturn and Melancholy: Studies in the History of Natural Philosophy, Religion, and Art (London, Thomas Nelson, 1964) and Rudolf and Margot Wittkower, Born Under Saturn: The Character and Conduct of Artists (New York: Random House, 1963).
Foi principalmente a partir das ideias difundidas pelos discipulos de Warburg, como Fritz Salx, Erwin Panofsky (1892-1968) e Ernest Gombrich (1909-2001) que muitos geografos tiveram contato com os termos iconografia e iconologia.
As earlier art historians--including Erwin Panofsky, Moshe Barasch, and Leo Steinberg--have noted Rogier was a magisterial creator of archetypes.