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Zachary Smithline


Zachary Smithline (2022) studies the art and thought of medieval Europe, particularly as they
illuminate the general nature of depiction; and the history of art history, especially as it
intersects with the history of science and the history of philosophical aesthetics.

Two ongoing projects explore these interests. The first applies 3D visualization techniques to a
Gothic sculptural program, the Princes’ Portal and Rider of Bamberg Cathedral, which responds
in subtle ways to changes in standpoint and lighting. Part modern experiment and part
medieval experimentum (often closer to “experience” than “experiment” in our sense), this
study refines current phenomenological approaches to visual analysis and maps a media
archaeology of art history. The second project examines interactions between Erwin Panofsky
(who, in 1916, spent a week of his honeymoon in Bamberg) and twentieth-century physicists. In
future work, Zach hopes to use various strands of Bildwissenschaft and analytic philosophy to
investigate mental imagery in medieval culture.

Before coming to Berkeley, Zach received his B.S. from Yale (2019) with a double major in
Physics and History of Art; he remains involved with the university by coordinating museum
accessibility initiatives for the Yale Disability Alumni Group. Zach also was a DAAD visiting
researcher at the Otto-Friedrich-Universität Bamberg (2020-21) and taught at The Met Cloisters
(2016), the Yale University Art Gallery (2015-19), and the Community College of Baltimore
County (2021-22), where his global survey of art history stressed theory and historiography.

In a past life, Zach was a biophysicist; click here to view his prior research.

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