Institute of Art History

History of the Institute


The Institute of Art History Tübingen was one of the more important university institutions in the German-speaking world. The subject Art History was first introduced at the Eberhard Karls University Tübingen by the Philosophical Faculty in 1894. Before that time art history was taught as part of seminars on aesthetics. The first full professor of Art History was Konrad Lange (1855-1921, professorship 1894-1921).

Thereby the subject became a historical discipline and the first steps towards a collection of teaching material that belonged to the institute were made. The Graphic Collection was initiated by the purchase of print graphics from the 16th to 18th century that belonged to the former Royal copper engraving cabinet in Stuttgart. Notable private collections and targeted purchases later enlarged the collection which serves the students for hands-on training and education even today.

Konrad Lange was part of the art education movement at the time and positioned himself in the middle between aesthetics and art history. He made several editions of original sources available and became the deputy inspector of the Royal picture gallery in Stuttgart during 1901-07. There he was the first to create a scientific inventory catalogue of all paintings. He purchased several trendsetting paintings by temporary artists for the Stuttgart gallery.

His successor Georg Weise (1888-1978, professorship 1921-1954) added a photo and transparency collection to the institute based on his research of French and Spanish architecture and sculptures of the Middle Ages. Additionally, he focused more on the regional art history of Swabia. He began to research and document regional art work, especially from medieval monuments. Georg Weise also worked on a systematic documentation of the Spanish monumental sculptures and published his findings in seven books (1925-1929) which substantially shaped the reception of art on the Iberian peninsula.

Hubert Schrade (1900-1966, professorship 1954-1965) was appointed as his successor. His research focus in publications lies with medieval and late medieval art in Germany and Italy. Schrade was initially interested in content analysis of the art work along the tendencies of the Hamburg Warburg Institute (also see his essay "Ikonographie der Himmelfahrt Christi" in: Vorträge der Bibliothek Warburg, 1928/29). During the time of National Socialism he publicly subordinated his views under the political objectives of the Third Reich (see the programmatic essay "Schicksal und Notwendigkeit der Kunst", Leipzig 1936). Schrade’s position during the Nazi time still requires thorough analysis and evidently was not considered when he was appointed to Tübingen in the 1950s. After 1945 Schrade returned to the iconographic ideas he proposed during the Weimar Republic but emphasized the Christian occidental aspect, similar to other art historians with a Nazi history.

The associate professor Wilhelm Boeck (1908-1998), whom Schrade marginalized effectively, was one of the first German art historians who successfully grappled with the art of Cézannes and the work of Pablo Picasso.

Günter Bandmann (1917-1975, profesorship 1965-1970) was a well-known scientist at the time when he was appointed at the Institute of Art History in Tübingen. His research focus was mediaeval architecture and his book "Mittelalterliche Architektur als Bedeutungsträger" (Berlin 1951) is considered to be a fundamental contribution on the concept of iconography in architecture. Günter Bandmann derived his methodology from Erwin Panofsky and Richard Krautheimer and continued the tradition of intellectual and style history at the same time. He managed to create a synthesis that was very fruitful scientifically. After his time in Tübingen Günter Bandmann continued his teaching work at the University of Bonn.

The appointment of Klaus Schwager (1925-2016, professorship 1971-1990) brings back parts of the era Georg Weise from whom Schwager attained his doctorate in 1952. His research focus was baroque and early baroque sculptures and architecture in Southern Germany and Italy. He also dedicated his time to the artist’s drawing. He mainly worked on the analysis of artistic shapes while considering aspects of the history of ideas, political and social settings based on historic sources. One of his important research fields was the Benedictine abbey in Ottobeuren.

Since the 1970s the iconologist Konrad Hoffmann (1938-2007) was part of the Institute and his research, art in the Middle Ages and the Renaissance among others, was committed to left wing, socially engaged art history.

During the last two decades the architecture historians Jürgen Paul and Elisabeth Kieven, the medievalist Peter K. Klein and the art historian for Modern Art, Annegret Jürgens-Kirchhoff. Jürgen Paul left the Institute to be professor at the University of Dresden and Elisabeth Kieven became director of the Hertziana in Rome. Annegret Jürgens-Kirchhoff and Peter K. Klein were retired in 2005 respective 2007.


For further information on former professors and curators of the Prints and Drawings collection, please see the German website.


You can find more information in our online exhibition (in German language)


125 Jahre Kunsthistorisches Institut

Former curators of the Prints and Drawings collection


List of further Emeriti