Villa Aurora Grant Recipients | 2017
Dr. Daniel Hess | Art Historian
- born in Richterswil (Switzerland)
- since 1998
- head of the department „Painting before 1800 and Stained Glass“ at the Germanisches Nationalmuseum, Nuremberg; since 2007 deputy director general.
Daniel Hess studied art history, ecclesiastical history and literature in Zürich. A DAAD grant brought him to Germany, where, in 1992, he received a PhD with a dissertation on the artists associated with the Medieval Housebook. His work as research associate at Corpus Vitrearum Medii Aevi in Freiburg (1992-1998) culminated in the catalogue of medieval stained glass in Frankfurt and Hesse. Since 1998, he has been working at the Germanisches Nationalmuseum to reshape it into the largest museum of cultural history in the German-speaking world. His credo is that museums are not only cultural repositories and oases of research but also vital sites of education at the interface between scholarship and society. As a scholar and curator, Hess searches for ways to bring historical knowledge into contemporary society in order to preserve cultural and intellectual variety. Under his direction, the „Renaissance – Baroque – Enlightenment“ section of the Germanisches Nationalmuseum’s permanent collection was established to present a comprehensive view of art and culture from 1500 to 1800. This was followed by the international research project and exhibition „The Early Dürer“ (2012), which explored Albrecht Dürer’s formative years to understand his early artistic and entrepreneurial intentions and ambitions. Research on the old masters not only opens new perspectives on the past but also builds bridges to the present. Hess’ many smaller exhibitions and publications have pursued that very goal. Most recently „Venus and Luther: Cranach’s Media of Seduction“ illustrated the artistic genius of Lucas Cranach and the virtuoso mastery of the image as a mass medium – a direct link between past and present. While Hess’s main areas of research and publication are painting and stained glass of the Middle Ages and Renaissance, he is also concerned with the relationship between nature and art. In his professional work, that multifaceted topic gives the opportunity to link the humanities and the natural sciences; beyond that, it also provides creative spaces for his own artistic activities.
Cooperation with the Getty Research Institute