Historical Note


In his teachings and writings on pre-Columbian and Ibero-American art, GEORGE KUBLERr has been credited with incorporating non-European arts and anthropology into the study of art history. Born in 1912, Kubler moved with his mother to Europe after his father's death. Kubler's father, Frederick William Kubler, was an industrialist and had studied art history in Munich. Kubler returned to the United States in 1933 and attended Yale, where he received a BA, MA and, after some initial doctoral work at New York University, his Ph.D. in 1940. During his doctoral studies at Yale, Kubler studied with Henri Focillon, and in 1943 published the English translation of Focillon's "Life of Forms in Art." One of Kubler's most important writings was "Art and architecture of Ancient America," (1962) his second work for the Pelican History of Art series. In addition to art historical studies, Kubler also wrote "Indian Caste of Peru: 1795-1940." Published in 1952, this population study was part of a government project of the Interdepartmental Committee on Scientific and Cultural Cooperation. Kubler taught at University of Chicago, Harvard University and Yale, where he chaired the department of art from 1953-1956 and served as Sterling Professor of the History of Art from 1975 until his retirement in 1983. He was also the 1985-1986 Kress Professor at the Center for Advanced Studies at the National Gallery of Art in Washington, D.C. Kubler married Elizabeth Bushnell in 1937. He died in 1996.

Befriending some of the most important artists of the 20th century, art collectors WALTER and LOUISE ARENSBERG played an integral role in the development and promotion of avant-garde artistic ideas and activities in the United States. Through the 1930's and 1940's, the Arensbergs acquired primarily modern art and non-Western artifacts as well as some Oriental rugs, Byzantine and Renaissance paintings, and American folk art. They also collected pre-Columbian stone and ceramic sculptures. After nearly a decade of discussions and many visits from Director Fiske Kimball and his wife Marie, the Arensbergs presented their collection of over 1,000 objects to the Philadelphia Museum of Art on December 27, 1950. The Museum also holds certain of their papers and book collection as well as several related collections pertaining to Marcel Duchamp, John Raphael Covert and the Francis Bacon Foundation.

Works Consulted

Dictionary of art historians, s.v. Kubler, George [Alexander].