September 23, 1904|
Šiauliai, Russian Empire (present-day Lithuania)
|Died||March 3, 1996
New York City, New York
|Occupation||Philosopher, professor, writer|
Meyer Schapiro (23 September 1904 – 3 March 1996) was a Lithuanian-born American art historian known for forging new art historical methodologies that incorporated an interdisciplinary approach to the study of works of art. An expert on early Christian, Medieval, and Modern art, Schapiro explored art historical periods and movements with a keen eye towards the social, political, and the material construction of art works.
Credited with fundamentally changing the course of the art historical discipline, Schapiro's scholarly approach was dynamic and it engaged other scholars, philosophers, and artists. An active professor, lecturer, writer, and humanist, Schapiro maintained a long professional association with Columbia University in New York as a student, lecturer, and professor. He died in 1996 in New York at the age of 91.
In 1907 his family immigrated to the United States, where he received his bachelors' and doctorate degrees from Columbia University. He began teaching in 1928 and became a full professor at Columbia in 1952. Schapiro was a proponent of modern art, and published books on Van Gogh and Cézanne and various essays on modern art. He was a founder of Dissent, along with Irving Howe and Michael Harrington. From 1966–1967 Schapiro was the Norton professor at Harvard University.
Schapiro's discourse on style is often considered his greatest contribution to the study of art history. According to Schapiro, style refers to the formal qualities and visual characteristics of a piece of art. Schapiro demonstrated that style could be used not only as an identifier of a particular period but also as a diagnostic tool. Style is indicative of the artist and the culture at large. It reflects the economic and social circumstances in which an artist works and breathes and reveals underlying cultural assumptions and normative values. On the other hand our own descriptions of form and style indicate our period, our concerns, and our biases; the way art historians of a particular age talk about style is also indicative of their cultural context.
Marxist art history 
Schapiro was, at points in his career, criticized for his approach to style because of its politically radical connotations. Schapiro himself wrote scholarly articles for a variety of socialist publications and endeavored to apply a novel Marxist method to the study of art history. In his most famous essay on Medieval Spanish art, 'From Mozarabic to Romanesque in Silos,' Schapiro demonstrated how the concurrent existence of two historical styles in one monastery was indicative of economic upheaval and class conflict.
Published books 
- Vincent van Gogh. New York: Harry N. Abrams, 1950 and reprints.
- Paul Cézanne. New York: Harry N. Abrams, 1952 and reprints.
- The Parma Ildefonsus: A Romanesque Illuminated Manuscript from Cluny, and Related Works. New York: College Art Association of America, 1964.
- Words and Pictures. On the Literal and the Symbolic in the Illustration of a Text. Approaches to Semiotics series 11, ed. Thomas A Sebeok. The Hague and Paris: Mouton, 1973.
- Selected Papers I: Romanesque Art. New York: George Braziller, 1977.
- Italian, Romanica (Turin: Giulio Einaudi, 1982).
- Spanish, Estudios sobre el Romanica (Madrid: Aliana Editorial, 1984).
- German, Romanische Kunst Ausgewahlte Schriften (Cologne: Dumont Verlag, 1987).
- Selected Papers II: Modern Art: 19th and 20th Centuries. New York: George Braziller, 1978, 1982.
- Swedish, Modern Konst-1800-talet och 1900-talet - Valda Studier, 1981
- German, Moderne Kunst-19.und 20. Jahrhundert-Ausgewahlte Aufsatze (Cologne: DuMont Buchverlag, 1982).
- Italian, L’Arte Moderna (Turin: Giulio Einaudi Editore, n.d.).
- Spanish, El Arte Moderno (Madrid: Alianza Editorial, S.A., 1988).
- Selected Papers III: Late Antique, Early Christian, and Medieval Art. New York: George Braziller, 1979.
- Spanish, Estudios sobre el arte de la Antiguedad Tardia, el Cristianismo Primitivo y la Edad Media (Madrid: Aliana Editorial, 1987).
- Style, Artiste et Societe, trans. Blaise Allan et. a. Paris: Editions Gallimard, 1982.
- The Romanesque Sculpture of Moissac. New York: George Braziller, 1985.(Reprint of Schapiro’s dissertation originally published in Art Bulletin. Includes photographs by David Finn)
- Selected Papers IV: Theory and Philosophy of Art: Style, Artist, and Society. George Brailler, 1994.
- Mondrian: On the Humanity of Abstract Painting. New York; George Braziller, 1995.
- Meyer Schapiro : the bibliography / compiled by Lillian Milgram Schapiro. New York : G. Braziller, 1995.
- Books published posthumously
- Words, Script, and Pictures: The Semiotics of Visual Language. New York: George Braziller, 1996.
- Impressionism: Reflections and Perceptions. New York George Braziller, 1997.
- A kind of rapture / Robert Bergman ; introduction by Toni Morrison ; afterword by Meyer Schapiro. New York: Pantheon Books, 1998.
- Worldview in Painting—Art and Society: Selected Papers, Vol. 5. New York: George Braziller, 1999.
- The Unity of Picasso’s Art. New York: George Braziller, 2000.
- Meyer Schapiro : his painting, drawing, and sculpture. New York : Harry N. Abrams, Publishers, 2000.
- Language of Forms: Lectures on Insular Manuscript Art. New York: Pierpont Morgan Library, 2005.
- Romanesque architectural sculpture: The Charles Eliot Norton lectures. Chicago: University of Chicago Press, 2006.
- Meyer Schapiro abroad : letters to Lillian and travel notebooks. Los Angeles, Calif. : Getty Research Institute, c2009.
See also 
- Subjects and objects Schapiro wrote about at length include
- Monastery of Santo Domingo de Silos
- Joshua Roll
- Ruthwell Cross
- The sculptures at Moissac
- Columbia classmates include
- Chambers, Whittaker (1952). Witness. Random House. pp. 376, 396, 415–417. ISBN 0-89526-571-0.
- "Meyer Schapiro". AliceNeel.com. Retrieved 23 May 2013.
- "Meyer Schapiro". AliceNeel.com. Retrieved 23 May 2013.
- "Meyer Schapiro Portraits by Alice Neel". Columbia University - On Archiving Blog. Retrieved 23 May 2013.
- On Archiving Schapiro: An informal forum that communicates and shares milestones during the course of processing the Meyer Schapiro Collection at Columbia University's Rare Book & Manuscript Library (RBML)
- New York Times obituary
- Jonathan D. Fineberg, "Meyer Schapiro," The Harvard Crimson, Feb. 6, 1967
- Schapiro article archive from The New York Review of Books
- Columbia 250
- Cindy Persinger, ‘Reconsidering Meyer Schapiro and the New Vienna School’ The Journal of Art Historiography Number 3 December 2010