Hersey, George Leonard 1927-

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HERSEY, George Leonard 1927-

PERSONAL: Born August 30, 1927, in Cambridge, MA; son of Milton Leonard (an economist) and Katharine (Page) Hersey; married Jane Maddox Lance-field, September 2, 1953; children: Donald, James. Education: Harvard University, A.B., 1951; Yale University, M.F.A., 1954, M.A., 1960, Ph.D., 1964. Politics: Democrat.

ADDRESSES: Home—167 Linden St., New Haven, CT 06511. Office—Department of the History of Art, Yale University, New Haven, CT 06520. E-mail—[email protected]

CAREER: Bucknell University, Lewisburg, PA, instructor, 1954-55, assistant professor of art, 1956-59, acting chairman of art history department, 1958-59; Yale University, New Haven, CT, assistant professor, 1965-68, associate professor, 1968-74, director of graduate studies, 1968-71, professor, 1974-92, currently professor emeritus of the history of art. Director of restoration research, Lockwood-Mathews Mansion Museum, Norwalk, CT, beginning 1970; member, Governor's Commission on the Restoration of the Connecticut State Capitol, beginning 1977. Military service: U.S. Army, 1946-47.

MEMBER: Society of Architectural Historians (member of board of directors, 1970-73), Victorian Society (United States), Victorian Society (Great Britain).

AWARDS, HONORS: Fulbright scholar in Italy, 1962; American Philosophical Society award, 1962; Schepp Foundation fellow of the Harvard Center for Renaissance Studies, 1971.

WRITINGS:

Alfonso II and the Artistic Renewal of Naples, 1485-95, Yale University Press (New Haven, CT), 1969.

High Victorian Gothic: A Study in Associationism, Johns Hopkins University Press (Baltimore, MD), 1972.

The Aragonese Arch at Naples, 1443-1477, Yale University Press (New Haven, CT), 1973.

Pythagorean Palaces: Architecture and Magic in theItalian Renaissance, Cornell University Press (Ithaca, NY), 1976.

Architecture, Poetry, and Number in the Royal Palace at Caserta, MIT Press (Cambridge, MA), 1983.

The Lost Meaning of Classical Architecture: Speculations on Ornament from Vitruvius to Venturi, MIT Press (Cambridge, MA), 1988.

(With Richard Freedman) Possible Palladian Villas(Plus a Few Instructively Impossible Ones), MIT Press (Cambridge, MA), 1992.

High Renaissance Art in St. Peter's and the Vatican:An Interpretive Guide, University of Chicago Press (Chicago, IL), 1993.

The Evolution of Allure: Sexual Selection from theMedici Venus to the Incredible Hulk, MIT Press (Cambridge, MA), 1996.

The Monumental Impulse: Architecture's BiologicalRoots, MIT Press (Cambridge, MA), 1999.

Architecture and Geometry in the Age of the Baroque, University of Chicago Press (Chicago, IL), 2000.

Contributor to Mediterranean, Aperture (New York, NY), 1995. Co-editor of Architectura: Internationale Zeitschrift für Architektur-Geschichte, 1971—; editor, Yale Publications on the History of Art, 1971-92.

SIDELIGHTS: For many years George Leonard Hersey was a professor of art history at Yale University. Retired in the early 1990s, Hersey has channeled his expertise on Italian Renaissance and nineteenth-century architecture into several books, including Architecture and Geometry in the Age of the Baroque, The Monumental Impulse: Architecture's Biological Roots, and The Evolution of Allure: Sexual Selection from the Medici Venus to the Incredible Hulk. Hersey has three degrees from Yale University, including an M.A. and Ph.D. in the history of art. Before becoming an instructor at Yale, he taught at Bucknell University, and became a full professor at Yale in 1974.

In Architecture, Poetry, and Number in the Royal Palace at Caserta, Hersey offers the first English book about Luigi Vanvitelli and his greatest work, the palace at Caserta. Work on the palace began in 1752 for Carlo di Borbone, the Bourbon king of the Two Sicilies. Hersey provides insight into the relationship literature had on Vanvitelli's work, particular the works of Giambattista Vico. Alison Armstrong Jensen noted in Progressive Architecture that "Hersey's book is valuable for its explanation not only of Caserta's physical history but also of Vico's influence on his contemporaries."

In The Lost Meaning of Classical Architecture: Speculations on Ornament from Vitruvius to Venturi, Hersey poses the question "why do we continue to use the classical orders in architecture?" Centuries after the decline of Greek's golden age, architects have continued to build columns in the form used on Greek temples. The Greeks have influenced the most celebrated monuments of modern culture, from the Capitol in Washington, D.C., to the Imperial Palace in Tokyo. Hersey's explanation for this is that ancient belief systems have a way of seeping into our language because their original meaning is somehow sacred. Mark Alden Branch commented in Progressive Architecture that Hersey's "exploration of the subtleties of the written and spoken language yields a greater understanding of the origins of the architectural language."

Hersey links nineteenth-century evolution proponent Charles Darwin to art history in The Evolution of Allure: Sexual Selection from the Medici Venus to the Incredible Hulk. According to the author, art has significantly shaped the fabric of evolution and human history. From the ancient Greeks to Hollywood and comic books, art has influenced our ideals about physical beauty, even down to the mates we choose. According to Barbara Dickson in Criticism, Hersey "offers rich suggestions and creative analysis which lends itself well to cultural studies of conceptualizations of the body." The book includes 146 illustrations.

Hersey continues to make connections between Darwinian science and architecture in The Monumental Impulse: Architecture's Biological Roots. He expands his theory by drawing comparisons between species of animal and building types. By examining the worlds of biology and architecture, Hersey hopes to demonstrate the relationship between microscopic life and buildings. In the final paragraph of the book he restates his mission by writing that "the discussion has illuminated a long and, I hope, fascinating drama of encounters, enactments, fusions, and correspondences between biology and architecture." Hersey's candid writing and the book's numerous illustrations offer a fascinating insight into his theories.

BIOGRAPHICAL AND CRITICAL SOURCES:

PERIODICALS

American Craft, February-March, 1985, review of TheLost Meaning of Classical Architecture: Speculations on Ornament from Vitruvius to Venturi, p. 94.

Apollo, February, 1990, review of The Lost Meaning of Classical Architecture, p. 35.

Architectural Record, March, 1993, review of PossiblePalladian Villas (Plus a Few Instructively Impossible Ones), p. 31.

Architecture, May, 1999, review of The Monumental Impulse: Architecture's Biological Roots, p. 55.

Burlington Magazine, November, 1984, review of Architecture, Poetry, and Number in the Royal Palace at Caserta, p. 714; fall, 1989, review of The Lost Meaning of Classical Architecture, p. 158; March, 1994, review of High Renaissance Art in St. Peter's and the Vatican: An Interpretive Guide, p. 186.

Choice, October, 1983, review of Architecture, Poetry, and Number in the Royal Palace at Caserta, p. 263; April, 1993, review of Possible Palladian Villas (Plus a Few Instructively Impossible Ones), p. 1305; December, 1993, review of High Renaissance Art in St. Peter's and the Vatican, p. 594; March, 1997, review of The Evolution of Allure, p. 1152.

Classical and Modern Literature, spring, 1991, review of The Lost Meaning of Classical Architecture, p. 262.

Classical Review, 1990, review of The Lost Meaning of Classical Architecture, p. 186.

Criticism, spring, 1998, review of The Evolution of Allure, p. 322.

Design Book Review, summer, 1989, review of The Lost Meaning of Classical Architecture, p. 35.

House & Garden, January, 1984, review of Architecture, Poetry, and Number in the Royal Palace at Caserta, p. 30.

Hudson Review, summer, 1997, review of The Evolution of Allure, p. 347.

Journal of Aesthetics and Art Criticism, summer, 1992, review of The Lost Meaning of Classical Architecture, p. 73; spring, 1994, review of Possible Palladian Villas, p. 262.

Library Journal, April 1, 1983, review of Architecture,Poetry, and Number in the Royal Palace at Caserta, p. 735; May 1, 1988, review of The Lost Meaning of Classical Architecture, p. 73.

Progressive Architecture, November, 1985, review of Architecture, Poetry, and Number in the Royal Palace at Caserta, p. 135; May, 1988, review of The Lost Meaning of Classical Architecture, p. 107; March, 1993, review of Possible Palladian Villas, p. 111.

Renaissance Quarterly, summer, 1984, review of Architecture, Poetry, and Number in the Royal Palace at Caserta, p. 264.

Times Literary Supplement, February 28, 1997, review of The Evolution of Allure, p. 32; February 25, 2000, review of The Lost Meaning of Classical Architecture, p. 20.*