Passages : Meyer Schapiro's early travels and the uniting Mediterranean Sea

Title: Passages : Meyer Schapiro's early travels and the uniting Mediterranean Sea
Variant title:
  • Přechody : rané cesty Meyera Schapira a sjednocující charakter Středozemního moře
Author: Shalem, Avinoam
Source document: Convivium. 2016, vol. 3, iss. 2, pp. 16-35
  • ISSN
    2336-3452 (print)
    2336-808X (online)
Type: Article
Summary language
License: Not specified license
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In July 1926, while preparing material for his doctoral thesis on the Romanesque sculpture of the abbey of Moissac, Meyer Schapiro (1904-1996) traveled along the shores of the Mediterranean. Departing from Paris to follow several itineraries over fifteen months, Schapiro, not yet twenty-two, explored medieval southern France, Spain, Italy, Greece, Egypt, Palestine, Lebanon, and Turkey. Traveling over land and sea, he traced the medieval pilgrims' routes. In doing so, he was in fact crossing borders of his fellow art historians' disciplines and regional-studies' categories. "I feel as if space is different and the whole world more accessible", Schapiro wrote to his fiancée. This openness suggests that Schapiro was able to unite, in this journey, the many histories of the Mediterranean - the space that came to serve as the foundation for his inquiry of medieval aesthetics. This essay considers Schapiro’s drawings from the eastern Mediterranean. Not only do they illustrate his particular method of processing and memorizing visual knowledge; they also hint at the change that occurred in Schapiro's mind during these travels - a change that would remain the source of inspiration for the subsequent productive decades of his scholarship.