June 17, 1958 |
University of California, Berkeley
|Spouse(s)||Margaret Lendia Koster (2003–present)|
Joseph Leo Koerner (born June 17, 1958 in Pittsburgh) is an American art historian. He is currently a Victor S. Thomas Professor of the History of Art and Architecture at Harvard University. Specializing in Northern Renaissance and 19th-century art, Koerner is perhaps best known for his work on German art. After teaching at Harvard from 1989 to 2000, he moved to London, where he taught at University College, London and the Courtauld Institute before returning to Harvard in 2007. He served as Director of Undergraduate Studies in the History of Art and Architecture department until 2012.
Education and career
Son of the Viennese-born American painter Henry Koerner, Koerner was raised in Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania and Vienna, Austria. He attended Yale University where received his B.A. in History, the Arts, and Letters in 1980. His senior thesis, published in 1983 in German titled Die Suche nach dem Labyrinth ("In Quest of the Labyrinth"), treated the myth of Daedalus and Icarus from Ancient Greek art and literature through James Joyce. After an Master of Arts in English at Cambridge University (M.A. 1982) and a year studying philosophy at Heidelberg University (1983), Koerner received his Ph.D. in art history at the University of California, Berkeley in 1988. In articles written while in graduate school, on topics ranging from early Chinese bronzes through Renaissance painting to contemporary art, Koerner focused on problems of meaning and developed his distinctive technique: fine-grained analysis of the effect images have on the beholder. Koerner used this technique most extensively in the opening chapters of his first art history book, Caspar David Friedrich and the Subject of Landscape (1990, Winner of the 1992 Mitchell Prize)—written while the author was a Junior Fellow at Harvard’s Society of Fellows.
Caspar David Friedrich and the Subject of Landscape became the third volume of Koerner’s trilogy on German art. The first volume, The Moment of Self-Portraiture in German Renaissance Art (1993), studied Albrecht Dürer’s self-portraits and their distortion by Dürer’s disciple, Hans Baldung Grien. The second volume, The Reformation of the Image (2004), treated Protestant iconoclasm and its aftermath. While writing the latter book, Koerner collaborated with Bruno Latour and Peter Weibel on the 2002 exhibition Iconoclash at the ZKM in Karlsruhe. He has also curated exhibitions of his father’s work, including a 1997 retrospective at the Austrian National Gallery. In Great Britain, Koerner is known for his work as writer and presenter of the Northern Renaissance (2006) and Vienna: City of Dreams (2008). A popular speaker, Koerner has delivered the Slade Lectures at Cambridge (2003)], the Getty Lectures at USC (2005), the Bross Lectures at University of Chicago (2007), the Mellon Lectures at the National Gallery (2008), and the Tanner Lectures in Human Values at Cambridge (2012). Koerner’s most recent publications concern the theme of enmity in the art of Hieronymus Bosch.
Koerner serves on the Board of Visitors of Ralston College, a new liberal arts college in Savannah. In 2009, Koerner was one of three recipients of the Andrew W. Mellon Foundation's Distinguished Achievement Award, which funds a current film project on Vienna.
In 2003, Koerner married Margaret K. Koerner (born Margaret Lendia Koster), also an art historian; a previous marriage had ended in divorce.
- Die Suche nach dem Labyrinth—Der Mythos von Daidalos und Ikarus, 1983 ISBN 978-3-518-03499-6
- Caspar David Friedrich and the Subject of Landscape, 1990; 2nd ed. rev. and expanded, 2008 ISBN 978-1-86189-439-7
- The Moment of Self-Portraiture in German Renaissance Art, 1993 ISBN 978-0-226-44999-9
- Unheimliche Heimat—Henry Koerner 1915-1991 ISBN 978-1-86189-439-7
- The Reformation of the Image, 2004 ISBN 978-0-226-44837-4
- Dürer’s Hands, 2006 ISBN 978-0-912114-35-4