Skip to main content

David A. Freedberg

Pierre Matisse Professor of Art History; Director, Italian Academy
School: 
School of the Arts
Department: 
Art History and Archaeology
Office: 
932 Schermerhorn Hall
Email: 
freedberg@columbia.edu
Phone: 
212-854-8527
Biography

David Freedberg is Pierre Matisse Professor of the History of Art at Columbia, and Director of its Italian Academy for Advanced Studies in America. Born and educated in South Africa until leaving while an undergraduate at the University of Cape Town, he received his BA from Yale and his DPhil from Oxford, before coming to Columbia in 1984.  He has strong academic affiliations and connections with European institutions, especially in Italy, Belgium, The Netherlands, and Germany. 

He is best known for his work on psychological responses to art, and particularly for his studies on iconoclasm and censorship (see, inter alia, Iconoclasts and their Motives, 1984, and The Power of Images: Studies in the History and Theory of Response, 1989). His more traditional art historical writing centered on the fields of Dutch and Flemish art. In recent years he has turned his attention to seventeenth century Roman art and to the paintings of Nicolas Poussin. He has been involved in several exhibitions of contemporary art (eg. Joseph Kosuth: The Play of the Unmentionable (1992)). Following a series of important discoveries in Windsor Castle, the Institut de France and the archives of the Accademia dei Lincei in Rome, he co-authored a number of catalogs of the natural history drawings in the Royal Collections and turned his attention to the intersection of art and science in the age of Galileo. His chief publication in this area is The Eye of the Lynx: Galileo, his Friends, and the Beginnings of Modern Natural History (2002).

Although Freedberg continues to teach in the fields of Dutch, Flemish, French, and Italian art of the fifteenth through seventeenth centuries, as well as in historiographical and theoretical areas, his research now concentrates on the relations between art, history, and neuroscience. He is currently engaged in writing two books: 1) Dance, the Body and Emotion; 2) Art and the Brain, with particular reference to emotion and movement. He continues to hope that he will be able to return to his longstanding project on the cultural history of the architecture and dance of the Pueblo peoples.

Freedberg leads the campaign to save Liberty Hall in Machiasport, Maine, a major historical building overlooking the site of the first sea battle of the American Revolution.

Professor Freedberg is a Fellow of the American Academy of Arts and Sciences, the American Philosophical Society, the Accademia Nazionale di Agricoltura and the Istituto Veneto.

 

Research & Other Works
Article
ERP Modulation during Observation of Abstract Paintings by Franz Kline
Article
Neural Circuits Underlying Motor Facilitation during Observation of Implied Motion
Contextual bias and insulation against bias during aesthetic rating. The roles of VMPFC and DLPFC in neural valuation
Feelings on Faces. From Physiognomics to Neuroscience
Prints and the Status of Images in Flanders
Article
From Hebrew and Gardens to Oranges and Lemons: Giovanni Battista Ferrari and Cassiano dal Pozzo
Article
Holy Images and Other Images
Article
Painting and the Counter Reformation in the Age of Rubens
Article
Why Connoisseurship Matters
Article
Ferrari and the Pregnant Lemons of Pietrasanta
Article
Composition and Emotion
Article
Warburg's Mask: A Study in Idolatry
Article
The Failure of Colour
Article
Immagini e risposta emotiva: la prospettiva neuroscientifica
Article
Poussin et Sienne
Article
Empatia, Movimento ed Emozione
Article
Kunst und Gegenreformation in den südlichen Niederlanden, 1560-1660
Article
Del nominare i fiori: Ferrari, Poussin e la storia della storia naturale
Article
Poussin, Ferrari, Cortone et l'"Aetas Florea"
Article
Cassiano dal Pozzo's Drawings of Citrus Fruits
Article
Cassiano and the Art of Natural History
Article
Cassiano on the Jewish Races
Article
Iconography Between the History of Art and the History of Science: Art, Science, and the Case of the Urban Bee
Lorenzo Da Ponte: Cultural Pioneer in New York
Article
Empathy, Motion and Emotion
Article
Rubens and Titian: Art and Politics
Article
Ferrari on the Classification of Oranges and Lemons
Article
La "Danza de aldeanos" de Rubens en el Prado
Article
The Structure of Byzantine and European Iconoclasm
Article
De l'effet de la musique, aux effets de l'image; ou pourquoi les modesne sont pas les "affetti"
Science, Commerce, and Art: Neglected Topics at the Junction of History and Art History
Article
Images dans les rêves
Article
Los retratos de Van Dyck en el Prado: las connexiones españoles y flamencas
Article
Choirs of Praise: Some Aspects of Action Understanding in Fifteenth-Century Painting and Sculpture
Article
Van Dyck and Virginio Cesarini: A Contribution to the Study of Van Dyck's Roman Sojourns
Article
Joseph Kosuth and the Play of the Unmentionable
Iconoclasts and Their Motives
Preface to the Polish Edition of "The Power of Images"
Article
Preface to the French Edition of "The Power of Images"
Article
The Power of Wood and Stone; The Taliban Is Not the First to Fear the Mysterious Lure of Art
Article
Pathos at Oraibi: What Warburg Did Not See
Article
Damnatio Memoriae: Why Mobs Pull Down Statues
Article
Antropologia e storia dell'arte: la fine delle discipline?
Article
Review of "Verzameld Werk," by J. A. Emmens
Article
Censorship Revisited
Article
Motion, emotion and empathy in esthetic experience
Article
Paintings or Prints? Experiens Sillemans and the Origins of the "Grisaille" Sea-Piece: Notes on a Rediscovered Technique
Article
The Problem of Images in Northern Europe and Its Repercussions in the Netherlands
Article
A Source for Rubens's Modello of the Assumption and Coronation of the Virgin in Leningrad: A Case Study in the Response to Images
Article
Rubens as a Painter of Epitaphs, 1612-1618
Article
The Origins and Development of the Flemish Madonnas in Flower Garlands: Decoration and Devotion
Article
The Hidden God: Image and Interdiction in the Netherlands in the Sixteenth Century
Article
Fame, Convention and Insight: On the Relevance of Fornenberg and Gerbier
Article
The Problem of Classicism: Ideology and Power
Article
Johannes Molanus on Provocative Paintings: "De Historia Sanctarum Imaginum et Picturarum," Book II, Chapter 42
Article
The Representation of Martyrdoms During the Early Counter-Reformation in Antwerp
 
Submit Content

Share your research or scholarly works to be posted on the site.