We are saddened to announce the death of Hans Belting, following a long illness. Hailed as one of the greatest art historians of all times, Professor Belting’s extensive publications have addressed a broad historical range of European art and architecture, inspiring the work and research of many in our community and beyond.
Hans Belting was first and foremost a medievalist. His doctorate (University of Mainz, 1959) was in this field of studies (“The Basilica dei SS. Martiri in Cimitile and its early medieval fresco cycle”) as was his habilitation, “Studies on Beneventan painting”. Following this, he was Harvard Fellow at the American Byzantine Studies Research Center in Dumbarton Oaks in Washington. Returning to Germany in 1965, Belting set up the department for Byzantine art at the University of Hamburg, before being appointed a professor in Heidelberg. From 1980 to 1992 he was Professor of Art History at Ludwig-Maximilians-University, Munich, moving to Karlsruhe College of Arts and Design in 1992 to co-found the department of art and media history, where he was also Professor.
Upon his retirement, from 2002 to 2003 Professor Belting served as Chair of the European Department at the Collège de France and, from 2004 to 2007 as Director of the International Research Center for Cultural Studies (IFK) in Vienna. He was a member of the Academy of Science, Heidelberg, and an Academia Europaea, Wissenschaftskolleg Fellow, a Fellow of the American Academy of Arts and Sciences and a member of the Order Pour le Mérite for Sciences and Arts (which numbers some eighty selected scientists and artists from Germany and around the world).
Professor Belting also wrote on the discipline of art history in the contexts of ‘new’ art forms, including photography, video art, and digital art. An early champion of interdisciplinary research, his work drew upon art history, image studies in cultural studies and in the natural sciences.
In 2015 Professor Belting received the prestigious Balzan Prize for his work on the history of European art; the award citation mentioned Belting’s singular contributions to the study of the visible and the function of images in the Western world as well as his innovative and original interpretations of artworks between cultures and eras.
His many publications include Likeness and Presence: A History of the Image Before the Era of Art (1984), The End of the History of Art (1987), The Invisible Masterpiece: The Modern Myths of Art (2001), Art History After Modernism (2003) and Face and Mask: a Double History (2017)
The Courtauld was delighted to award Professor Belting an Honorary Doctorate of Literature (D.Lit Honoris Causa) of the University of London in 2003, the first year of its existence as an independent college of the University.