David Freedberg

Member of the NOMIS Foundation Board of Directors

David Freedberg is a NOMIS board member and is professor of the history of art at Columbia University (New York, US) as well as director of its Italian Academy for Advanced Studies in America.

Born in Cape Town, South Africa, Freedberg studied classical philology at Yale University and cultural and art history at both the Warburg Institute (University of London) and the University of Oxford, where he earned a DPhil in 1973. He taught the history of medieval, Renaissance and Baroque art at the University of London from 1973 to 1984, concentrating above all on psychological and social responses to images. He served as director of the Warburg Institute from 2015-2017. Freedberg is a fellow of the American Academy of Arts and Sciences, the American Philosophical Society, the Accademia Nazionale di Agricultura and the Istituto Veneto di Scienze, Lettere e Arti. He has been awarded an honorary doctorate by the University of Ghent, and the Sigillum Magnum of the University of Bologna.

Freedberg is best known for his work on psychological responses to art, iconoclasm and censorship and has long studied the intersection of art and science in the age of Galileo. He then pioneered the application of the new cognitive neurosciences in the study of art and its history, and has turned the Italian Academy for Advanced Studies in America into one of the world’s most versatile centers for advanced cross-disciplinary work in the humanities and sciences. His primary research now concentrates on the relations between art, history and cognitive neuroscience. Taking up the psychological dimensions of the work outlined in The Power of Images, he has for some time been engaged in research and experiments on the relations between vision, embodiment, movement and emotion.