Dr. Steinberg, History of Art

Dr. Leo Steinberg, Benjamin Franklin Professor Emeritus of the History of Art, passed away March 13, 2011; he was 90.

Born in Moscow, Dr. Steinberg spent his childhood in Berlin before moving to London, where he studied art at the University of London’s Slade School of Fine Art from 1936 to 1940.

He immigrated to New York City after World War II and worked as a freelance writer, a German-English translator and life-drawing instructor at Parsons School of Design.

After earning his PhD in art history from New York University in 1961, Dr. Steinberg taught at Hunter College until 1975 and in 1972 was co-founder of the art history department of CUNY’s Graduate Center. He was appointed Benjamin Franklin Professor of the History of Art at Penn in 1975 and held that post until his retirement in 1991. He also lectured at other universities and museums including Stanford, Princeton, Columbia, Harvard and the Metropolitan Museum of Art.

Dr. Steinberg published and lectured widely on Renaissance, Baroque, and twentieth-century art. He was best known for using a first-person narrative in his art critiques. His books include Other Criteria: Confrontations with Twentieth-Century Art; Michelangelo’s Last Paintings; Borromini’s San Carlo alle Quattro Fontane: A Study in Multiple Form and Architectural Symbolism; The Sexuality of Christ in Renaissance Art and in Modern Oblivion; Encounters with Rauschenberg;and Leonardo’s Incessant Last Supper.

In 2002, Dr. Steinberg donated his private collection of 3,200 prints to the University of Texas at Austin, which includes prints by Rembrandt, Matisse, Goya, Picasso, and Michelangelo.

Dr. Steinberg is survived by nieces and nephews.