Endowed Professor 2011: Prof. Dr. Gottfried Boehm

Gottfried Boehm was born September 19, 1942 in Braunau/Böhmen. He spent his youth in the Palatinate region and completed his studies at the universities of Cologne, Vienna, and Heidelberg. He was fascinated by art and philosophy in equal measure from an early age. He went on to study Art History, Philosophy, German Studies, and Theater Studies.. He graduated in 1968 from the University of Heidelberg with a PhD in Philosophy, advised by Hans-Georg Gadamer, with a philosophical study inspired by an important event in the Art History: the invention of central perspective in the renaissance. He then received his post-doctoral professorial qualification, again in Heidelberg (1974), in Art History. The subject was the origin of independent portraits in Italy during the renaissance ('Image and individual,' Munich 1985).

From 1975, he worked as associate professor at Ruhr University Bochum. Max Imdahl had recruited him to this extraordinarily lively place, the first to offer modern art as part of a German university education. Beginning in 1979, he held the position of chair of Art History at Justus-Liebig University. He has been a full professor for the History of Modern Art at Basel Universityl since 1986. The academic work he published encompasses the art of the renaissance period, along with a focus on modern art and issues relating to method ('hermeneutics of the image'), art theory, and aesthetics. With the 1994 publication, 'What is a picture?,' he established a scientific approach to studying images he called 'Iconic Turn,' which has since grown into a broad interdisciplinary field of work.

In Basel, for a city of art and images, he combines research and teaching with original work in museums and exhibits. He was academically and conceptually involved with numerous well-known exhibits, among others on artists of the classical modern period such as Monet, Cézanne, Van Gogh, Matisse, Seurat or the classicism of the 1920s right through to contemporary artists. This includes work in several academic advisory councils at museums and foundations.

In 1981, Gottfried Boehm helped found the 'Institut für die Wissenschaften vom Menschen' (Department for Human Sciences) in Vienna, an 'Institute for Advanced Study,' devoted mainly to cooperation between east and west, and which has taken on the task of reconstructing civil society and universities in Eastern Europe. In 2001/2002 he was a fellow at 'Wissenschaftskolleg zu Berlin' (Institute for Advanced Study in Berlin). Since 2005, he is also the director of the Swiss national research unit, "Eikones" in Basel, an institute for interdisciplinary iconography, in which more than 40 young scientists from several countries participate. The book series, "Eikones" provides an insight into this work (Fink-Verlag Munich). A brief summary of his iconographical concepts and ideas is included in the 2007 edition, 'How pictures make sense. The power of portrayal' (Berlin University Press). An English translation is in progress and an Italian version is already available. His numerous visiting appointments at universities in Paris, Rome, Berlin, and Chicago are worth noting.

He has been a corresponding member of the Heidelberg Academy of the Sciences since 2006 and a member of the German Academy of Sciences, Leopoldina since 2010.

Brief biography:

Boehm, Gottfried, Prof. Dr. phil., born in 1942 in Braunau (Böhmen). Studied Art History , Philosophy, and German Studies in Cologne, Vienna, and Heidelberg. Ph.D. 1968 in Philosophy, professorial dissertation 1974 in Art History in Heidelberg. From 1975 - 1979 lecturer and associate. professor for Art History at Ruhr University Bochum, 1979 - 1986 professorship for Art History at Justus-Liebig-University Gießen. Since 1986, professor of modern art history at Basel University. Fellow at 'Wissenschaftskolleg zu Berlin' (Institute for Advanced Study in Berlin) (2001/2002). Director of the national research focus area (NFS) "Image critique" (since 2005). Corresponding member of the Heidelberg Academy of the Sciences since July 2006, a member of the German Academy of Sciences, Leopoldina since 2010.