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Most valuable German research award goes to art historian at the TU Berlin

Thursday, 10. December 2015

Press release no. 240/2015

Bénédicte Savoy conducts research on art plundering, looted art and restitution from a historical perspective / the Leibniz Prize is worth 2.5 million euros

The art historian Prof. Dr. Bénédicte Savoy from TU Berlin is to receive the Gottfried Wilhelm Leibniz Prize. This was announced on 10 December 2015 by the German Research Foundation (DFG), which awards the prize. This honour is one of the most important German research awards, and is worth 2.5 million euros.

Leibniz Prize winner Prof. Dr. Bénédicte Savoy

“We are all especially delighted that the DFG is bestowing this great honour on our researcher Bénédicte Savoy. As a scholar, a university teacher, and as a curator, Professor Savoy is a remarkable person. Her inclusion of students in challenging projects, her intelligible presentation of her research findings, and her work as an intermediary between research and the public are exemplary. Her curiosity and thirst for knowledge have provided many new insights for both scholars and the public. She is notable for her high standard of work and high aspirations, and for her activity as an intermediary. As the TU Berlin, we are very proud that Bénédicte Savoy researches and teaches in our institution. She is a huge asset. I warmly congratulate her in the name of TU Berlin”, says Prof. Dr. Christian Thomsen president of TU Berlin.   

Leibniz Prize winner Prof. Dr. Bénédicte Savoy

The internationally respected researcher works from a historical perspective, focusing particularly on how artworks are dealt with in wartime, on art plundering, looted art, and restitution, as well as on the relationship between France and Germany, especially in the area of culture. She has already received numerous awards for her exceptional scholarly achievements, most recently the Prix de l’Académie de Berlin at the beginning of December 2015, and the Opus Magnum Prize from the Volkswagen Foundation. This award is to allow the art historian to carry out her book project on the role of Paris and German Romanticism: “Paris – Hauptstadt der deutschen Romantik”. The exhibition she curated in 2010, “Napoleon und Europa. Traum und Trauma”, in the Bundeskunsthalle in Bonn, attracted considerable attention both in Germany and abroad, as did the 2014 exhibition “Les frères Humboldt. L’Europe de l’Esprit” at the Observatoire de Paris in France (with David Blankenstein), and her Nefertiti project, in which she explored new sources. 

The French scholar has built up a distinctive profile in her area of research and teaching, the history of the museum, especially from the 18th to the 20th century. With her critical approach to sources and her outstanding fundamental research, she has given this largely neglected area of research an internationally recognized profile and generated totally new insights: into the history of institutions, the history of reception, the international art market, and also, to an increasing extent, the history of cultural transfer in the global context.

Prof. Dr. Bénédicte Savoy, born in Paris in 1972, studied German language and literature at the École Normale Supérieure in Paris, and received her doctorate in 2000 with a dissertation on Napoleonic art looting in Germany. Since 2003 she has been Professor of Art History at the Department of Art History and Historical Urban Studies at TU Berlin. She is a member of the Board of Trustees of the German Federal Cultural Foundation and a member of the German-French Cultural Council. She has received many awards for her work both in France and in Germany. In 2001, she received the Pierre Grappin Prize from the Association des Germanistes de l’enseignement supérieur (French Association of Germanists in Higher Education), and in 2009 she was awarded the Walter de Gruyter Prize of the Berlin-Brandenburg Academy of Sciences and Humanities. In 2011 she received the Richard Hamann Prize of the Philipps-Universität Marburg, and in 2013 she was made a Knight of the French National Order of Merit. In 2015 she also received the Prize for the Promotion of the French Language and Literature from the Académie française.

The Leibniz Prize is awarded to scientists and academics for outstanding scholarly achievements. The funding is intended to improve the working conditions of the prizewinners and their research groups, and to allow the participation of especially highly-qualified younger scholars and well as scholars from abroad. The funds provided release the researchers from administrative tasks, and give them the opportunity to concentrate on their work. 


More information:

Stefanie Terp
Spokeswoman of TU Berlin
Phone 030/314-22919

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