Schapiro, Meyer (shəpĭrˈō) [key], 1904–96, American art historian, b. Siauliai, Lithuania. Schapiro came to the United States in 1907 and later attended Columbia Univ., where he began teaching in 1928, received a Ph.D. in 1929, and became a full professor in 1952. He also taught at New York Univ. (1932–36) and the New School for Social Research (1936–52), where his lectures were particularly influential on many artists and writers. In his earliest work Schapiro made pioneering investigations into the nature and aesthetics of Romanesque sculpture, and he gained prominence in the 1930s as a critic and champion of modern art. He also contributed scholarship of the highest order in the areas of early Christian, medieval, 19th-century, and modern art, exploring such areas as the history of style and the relationship of art to folk art traditions, to sociology, anthropology, psychoanalysis, and other disciplines.
Schapiro's earlier essays include "The Nature of Abstract Art" (1937), "On the Aesthetic Attitude in Romanesque Art" (1948), and "Leonardo and Freud" (1956). Among his most important books are studies on Van Gogh (1950) and Cézanne (1952) and four major essay collections: Romanesque Art (1977), Modern Art: 19th and 20th Centuries (2 vol., 1978–79), Late Antique, Early Christian and Mediaeval Art (1979), and Theory and Philosophy of Art: Style, Artist and Society (1994).