In this age of specialization, the renaissance man is becoming hard to find. Yet, the curiosity of the most inventive thinkers in every field has always extended far beyond the limits of a single discipline. Leonardo Da Vinci is as famous for his inventions as for his paintings, and the story-teller Lewis Carroll was a pioneer in mathematics and photography. Meyer Schapiro, the 1967 Charles Eliot Norton lecturer, combines this same curiosity and inventiveness with a profound, human sensitivity. While he is an art historian by profession he is conversant with subjects as diverse as semiotics and Freudian psychology.
The rigor and devotion of Schapiro's scholarly work display the influence of the Talmudic tradition which he inherited from his father, who taught at a Jewish seminary in Russia. Three qualities characterize Schapiro's approach to the history of art: sensitive and sympathetic seeing, detailed and accurate description, and an effort to make aesthetic intuition accessible through a philosophically rigorous theory.
Schapiro received all of his education at Columbia University, where he has taught for 40 years. In 1932, he offered the first course anywhere on the history of modern art. He was one of the founders of the Journal of the History of Ideas, and the man most responsible for bringing the abstract art of the 50's to the attention of the public.
His seven lectures this Spring on Romanesque architectural sculpture will reflect the definitive work he has done in the art of the 11th and 12th centuries. Schapiro is perceptive and eloquent; his lectures promise to be outstanding.