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The 2005 drupa Prize goes to art historian Wiebke Windorf

Press release from the issuing company

April 26, 2005 -- The drupa Prize is being awarded for the thirtieth time this year. Endowed with EUR 6,000, the award which recognises exceptional theses submitted to the Faculty of Arts at the Heinrich Heine University in Düsseldorf, traces its origins back to 1978. What motives inspire the creation of altarpieces? Do they offer a one-to-one representation of reality or do they portray fictional events intended to evoke an emotional response from believers and fan the fires of their faith? Did artists adhere strictly to the specifications of the Cardinals or did they allow themselves the artistic licence to overstep the boundaries of their briefs? These are the key questions that Wiebke Windorf is concerned with in her thesis, “Sakrale Historienmalerei in Neu-St. Peter. Faktizität und Fiktionalität in der Altarbildausstattung unter Papst Urban VIII, 1623-1644” (Sacred historical painting in New St. Peter’s. Fact and fiction in the altarpieces under Pope Urban VIII, 1623-1644). Ms. Windorf’s research focused on the 15 altarpieces commissioned in the 1620s and 1630s for the New St. Peter’s Basilica in Rome. Almost without exception, the 15 works depict a martyr’s death or miracle from the life of the saint to whom the altar is devoted. The 30-year-old’s doctoral research called for frequent trips to Rome and legwork in the Vatican archives. Access to the archives was granted only after a drawn-out authorisation process. “Working in the Vatican Library with the original 17th century documents was truly thrilling,” says the art historian whose work is her passion. “It was very difficult to resist the temptation to let myself be sidetracked from my thesis and dip into the ancient texts to my heart’s content.” A native of Oldenburg, Ms. Windorf studied art history, contemporary history and philosophy in Düsseldorf, graduating with an MA in 2000. She completed her doctorate under Prof. Hans Körner at the Art History Department of Heinrich Heine University in Düsseldorf. As a lecturer at the Institute of Art History in Bonn, one of the largest institutes of its kind in Germany, Wiebke Windorf taught several introductory programmes, including courses on the museum kunst palast in Düsseldorf. As of 1 April 2005, she joined the academic staff at the Art History Department of Heinrich Heine University in Düsseldorf.