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Buschor, Ernst

Date born: 1886

Place born: Hürben bei Krumbach/Bavarian Swabia, Germany

Date died: 1961

Place died: Munich, Germany

Classical archaeologist; one of the first to identify the critical turn in ancient Greek art from the archaic to the classical age as taking place around 500 B.C. Buschor was born into a family of modest means and education. He initially studied law but by 1905 had switched to classical archaeology, attending the university at Munich and studying under Adolf Furtwängler (q.v.), to whom he was devoted. Owing to Furtwängler’s early death (1907), he wrote his dissertation under Paul Wolters (q.v.) in 1912, publishing his first book, Griechische Vasenmalerei, before its appearance. Buschor fought in World War I and afterward, despite a lack of habilitationschrift, was appointed associate professor at the University of Erlangen in 1919. The following year, at age 34, he was named full Professor of Archaeology at Freiburg. When the Deutsche archäologische Institut (German Archaeological Institute, or DAI) in Athens reopened in 1921, Buschor was appointed it's first (new) secretary. His many accomplishments there included reopening the excavations of the Sanctuary of Hera at Samos, which had been closed since the War in 1914. He was appointed director of the excavations of Samos in 1925, a position he held until his death. The same decade he published on the archaic poros pedimental sculpture of the Acropolis and completed the third volume of Furtwängler’s Griechische Vasenmalerei, (1932) left undone by his mentor’s death. Buschor took over the chair of both his mentors (Furtwängler and Wolters) at Munich in 1929 (appointed Ordinarius professor) remaining there the rest of his professional life. Buschor was attracted to the nationalistic aspects of Nazism in the 1930s and taught in Munich under full authority of the Third Reich. In 1937 he received an honorary doctorate from the University in Athens. His 1942 Vom Sinn der griechishce Standbilder, however, is relatively free of fascist ideology. After the war he was one of the first professors to be stripped of his position for his complicity with the Nazi government, though his art-historical writing was esteemed enough by the American art historian Margarete Bieber (q.v.) to be included as a translated passage in her German Readings reader of 1946. He continued the approach to classical art begun in Standbilder in his next book, Bildnisstufen, 1947, as well as researching and translating Greek tragedies. His students included Ludger Alscher (q.v.), Roland Hampe (b. 1908) , Nikolaus Himmelmann (b. 1929), Ernst Homann-Wedeking (1908–2002), Gerhard Kleiner (q.v.), and Dieter Ohly.

Wolfgang Schindler characterized Buschor as turning archaeology into an art history to tried to understand the objects themselves, connecting the objects with the history and culture of their time. Buschor’s writings about the architectural phases of the Rhoikos Temple from the Samos excavation were important for the understanding of classical building. His methodology was clearly and candidly outlined in his “Begriff und Method der Archäologie” republished in Handuch der Archäologie by Iwan Müller (1939, 1969) and later in an essay emphasizing the complexity, Grab eines attische Mädschens. Buschor was ever concerned with the dichotomy of the meaning of ancient art: its role contemporary to its time as well as its modern relevance. His stylistic analysis was somewhat superseded by iconology, but never supplanted. His tendency to look for grand historical principles is typical of Germanic conceptions of art history of his time. Critics--and there have been many--chide his work for subjectivity and his writing for inscrutability. However, his work on the archaic Greek art and the severe style remain pioneering accomplishments.

Country: Germany

Sources: Scheffold, Karl. “Ernst Buschor.” Archäologenbildnisse: Porträts und Kurzbiographien von Klassichen Archäologen deutscher Sprache. Reinhard Lullies, ed. Mainz am Rhein: Verlag Philipp von Zabern, 1988, p. 234-35; Schindler, Wolfgang. “Ernst Buschor.” Classical Scholarship: A Biographical Encyclopedia. New York: Garland Publishing, 1990, pp. 13-16; Zanker, Paul. “Ernst Buschor: 1886-1961: Archäologe, Pädegoge, Weltdeuter.” Umbits 5 (1986): 16-17; Benson, Jack L. “Introduction.” Buschor, Ernst. On the Meaning of Greek Statues. Amherst: University of Massachusetts Press, 1980, pp. ix-xxiii; Calder, William. "Buschor, Ernst." Encyclopedia of the History of Classical Archaeology. Nancy Thomson de Grummond, ed. Westport, CT: Greenwood Press, 1996, vol. 1, p. 210.

Bibliography: [dissertation:] Beiträge zur Geschichte der griechischen Textilkunst (Die Anfänge u. d. oriental. Import.). Munich: Kastner & Callwey, 1912; Griechische Vasenmalerei. Munich: R. Piper, 1912, English, Greek Vase-Painting. London: Chatto & Windus, 1921; Altsamische Standbilder. 5 vols. Berlin: Gebr. Mann 1934-1962; Bildnisstuffen. Munich: Münchner Verlag, 1947; Frühgriechische Jünglinge. Munich: R. Piper, 1950; Grab eines attischen Mädchens. Munich: Piper, 1959; Griechische Vasen. Munich: R. Piper & Co.,1940; Das hellenistische Bildnis. Munich: Biederstein, 1949; Die plastik der Griechen. Berlin: Rembrandt-Verlag, 1936; and Hamann, Richard. Die Skulpturen des Zeustempels zu Olympia. Marburg an der Lahn: Kunstgeschichtlichen Seminars der Universität Marburg, 1924; Die Tondächer der Akropolis. 2 vols. Berlin: W. de Gruyter & Co., 1929-1933; Vom Sinn der griechischen Standbilder. Berlin: Gebr. Mann, 1942, English, On the Meaning of Greek Statues. Amherst: University of Massachusetts Press, 1980.