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Meyer Schapiro: Portrait of an Art Historian by Helen Epstein (19,700 words)
This is the only profile available of art historian Meyer Schapiro (1904-1996). A polymath, revered for his extraordinary scholarship and teaching, he championed medieval studies, modern masters like Matisse and Picasso and artists of his own time. His lectures at Columbia and the New School attracted overflow crowds of students and artists. "Sometimes he was so brilliant that he seemed almost insane to me; he seemed to see more than there actually was — he heard voices," Anatole Broyard recalled in his memoir, Kafka Was the Rage. Some of Schapiro's art history essays are available to students but, for decades, he refused to be interviewed.
In 1982, Milton Esterow, editor of ARTnews was able to persuade the reticent art historian to sit for a portrait. The result was this two-part profile that appeared in ARTnews.