Hans Belting

Hans Belting (born 7 July 1935 in Andernach, Rhine Province) is a German art historian and theorist of medieval and Renaissance art, as well as contemporary art and image theory. He was born in Andernach, Germany, and studied at the universities of Mainz and Rome, and took his doctorate in art history at the University of Mainz. Subsequently he has held a fellowship at Dumbarton Oaks (Harvard University), Washington, D.C.

Hans Belting
Knihovna Hanse Beltinga - otevření - 22 (cropped).jpg

Belting published his first monograph in 1962 (Die Basilica dei Ss. Martiri in Cimitile) and since then has authored more than thirty books, some of them translated into various languages. His essay The End of Art History? attracted considerable attention and Belting expanded it in successive editions.[1]

Belting is known for his contributions to the field of Bildwissenschaft ("image-science"). His account of Bildwissenschaft sought to develop an anthropological theory of the image in order to examines its universal functions that span cultural distinctions, and considered the relationship between the image and the body.[2] Belting examined images used in religious contexts in order to identify the original non-artistic functions of images today considered art objects, and argued that "art" was a unit of analysis had emerged in the 16th century that obstructed corporeal engagements with images.[3] In Likeness and Presence (1990), Belting argued for the necessity of understanding the ways images give meaning to their contexts, rather than gaining meaning from their contexts, in order to understand images as actors with their own agency.[4] Belting argues that art history as a disciplinary formation is outmoded and potentially obsolete,[5] and that a Bildwissenschaft capable of apprehending all kinds of images, the exact scope and methods of which remain uncertain, should be sought.[6] Pioneering the development of a global perspective on art studies and museum practice was the research project GAM - Global Art and the Museum, which Belting initiated in 2006 with Peter Weibel and Andrea Buddensieg at the ZKM | Center or Art and Media Karlsruhe. The project, which ran until 2016, took a look at new museum practices and the worldwide development of art biennials that have emerged beyond "Euramerica" (John Clark) since the end of the 1980s.[7] The project included the exhibition and publication The Global Contemporary: Art Worlds after 1989 (2011-2012) at ZKM | Center or Art and Media Karlsruhe.[8]

Belting taught as a professor at the University of Hamburg in 1966.[9] He taught as a professor of art history at the University of Heidelberg, and from 1980 to 1992 as a professor at the Ludwig-Maximilians-Universität at Munich.

From 1992 until his retirement in 2002, Belting was professor at the Institute for Art History and Media Theory at the State College of Design in Karlsruhe.[10] From October 2004 until the end of September 2007, Belting served as Director of the Internationalen Forschungszentrums Kulturwissenschaften (International Research Centre for Cultural Studies) in Vienna.[11]

Belting is a member of various scientific academies in Germany and the U.S., including the Heidelberg Academy of Sciences, a fellow of the Wissenschaftskolleg in Berlin, and honorary member of the Zentrum für Literatur- und Kulturforschung Berlin (since 2006). He is a member of the Order pour le Mérite of Arts and Sciences[12] and a member of the Board of Trustees of the Museum of Modern Art Ludwig Foundation Vienna (MUMOK). He was elected a Foreign Honorary Member of the American Academy of Arts and Sciences in 1992,[13] and a member of the American Philosophical Society in 2005.[14]

In 2016 Belting donated his private library in three parts to the libraries of the institutes of art history at Free University of Berlin, at Danube University Krems (Austria) as well as Center of Early Medieval Studies of Faculty of Arts of Masaryk University.[15] Hence the latter named the new library after him.[16][17]

Belting opening library with his books in Masaryk University, Brno.


  • Faces: Eine Geschichte des Gesichts, C. H. Beck, Munich 2013
  • Florence and Baghdad: Renaissance Art and Arab Science 2011
  • An Anthropology of Images: Picture, Medium, Body 2011
  • Looking through Duchamp's Door 2010
  • The Global Art World. Audiences, Markets, and Museums (ed. with Andrea Buddensieg), Hatje Cantz, Ostfildern, 2009, 978-3-7757-2407-4
  • Global Studies. Mapping Contemporary Art and Culture (Ed.), Hatje Cantz, Ostfildern, 2011, 978-3-7757-3202-4
  • Hieronymus Bosch: Garden of Earthly Delights 2005
  • Art History after Modernism by Hans Belting, Mitch Cohen and Kenneth J. Northcott 2003
  • The Invisible Masterpiece 2001
  • Thomas Struth: Museum Photographs by Hans Belting and Thomas Struth 2001
  • The Germans and Their Art: A Troublesome Relationship 1998
  • Likeness and Presence: A History of the Image before the Era of Art 1997
  • The Image and Its Public in the Middle Ages: Form and Function of Early Paintings of the Passion 1990
  • Max Beckmann: Tradition as a Problem in Modern Art 1989
  • The End of the History of Art? 1987


  1. ^ Das Ende der Kunstgeschichte? (1983) was first read at a conference held at the Munich University in 1980, and ten years later as revised as Das Ende der Kunstgeschichte : eine Revision nach zehn Jahren, 1995 (ISBN 3-406-38543-5); an English translation was produced as Art History after Modernism, Chicago, 2003 (ISBN 0-226-04184-0)
  2. ^ Rampley, Matthew (2012). "Bildwissenschaft: Theories of the Image in German-Language Scholarship". In Rampley, Matthew; Lenain, Thierry; Locher, Hubert; Pinotti, Andrea; Schoell-Glass, Charlotte; Zijlmans, Kitty (eds.). Art History and Visual Studies in Europe: Transnational Discourses and National Frameworks. Brill Publishers. p. 126.
  3. ^ Rampley 2012, pp. 126–7.
  4. ^ Craven, David (2014). "The New German Art History: From Ideological Critique and the Warburg Renaissance to the Bildwissenschaft of the Three Bs". Art in Translation. 6 (2): 143. doi:10.2752/175613114X13998876655059. S2CID 192985575.
  5. ^ Gaiger, Jason (2014). "The Idea of a Universal Bildwissenschaft". Estetika: The Central European Journal of Aesthetic. LI (2): 214.
  6. ^ Gaiger 2014, p. 211.
  7. ^ "GAM - Global Art and the Museum | 2006 to 2016 | ZKM". zkm.de. Retrieved 30 May 2021.
  8. ^ "The Global Contemporary | 17.09.2011 (All day) to 19.02.2012 (All day) | ZKM". zkm.de. Retrieved 27 July 2021.
  9. ^ "E Hans Belting". hosting.zkm.de. Archived from the original on 22 March 2008. Retrieved 26 September 2008.
  10. ^ "The Chicago School of Media Theory > Members > Hans Belting". csmt.uchicago.edu.
  11. ^ "Beirat des Internationalen Kollegs in Weimar besetzt". idw-online.de.
  12. ^ "Academy of the Third Millennium – Speakers". www.akademie3000.de.
  13. ^ "Book of Members, 1780–2010: Chapter B" (PDF). American Academy of Arts and Sciences. Retrieved 30 May 2011.
  14. ^ "APS Member History". search.amphilsoc.org. Retrieved 25 May 2021.
  15. ^ Živný, Filip (20 April 2016). "Německého historika oslnili brněnští studenti, dá jim celoživotní sbírku". iDNES.cz. Retrieved 20 April 2016.
  16. ^ "Faculty of Arts MU: Slavnostní otevření Knihovny Hanse Beltinga". Masaryk university. Retrieved 20 April 2016.
  17. ^ "Faculty of Arts receives thousands of books from an art historian". online.muni.cz. Masaryk university. Retrieved 21 May 2016.

External linksEdit

  • This article incorporates translated material from the German Wikipedia article.