Former Laureates

Herbert Read

Herbert Read

1966

In 1966 the Erasmus Prize was shared by two scholars in the field of art history: Sir Herbert Read and René Huyghe.
Herbert Read (1893-1968) was an art historian, critic, writer and poet. He was curator at the Victoria and Albert Museum in London from 1922 to 1933; later he taught at the Universities of Edinburgh, Liverpool and London. From 1933 to 1939 he was editor of the Burlington Magazine. He spent his life writing for his ideal, which he formulated in the following words: “Art must rule our lives so that we should be able to say: There are no more works of art, but Art alone. For then art is the way of life”. In many writings based on this assumption he endeavoured to express in words the essence and meaning of art. His influential and constructive criticism greatly advanced the understanding and appreciation of modern art. The Erasmus Prize was conferred on him for these reasons, and also for human qualities deserving of recognition: his social concern involved him in a continual struggle for the penetration of art to all levels of society, and his pleas for creativity in education have undoubtedly helped to make possible the harmonious development of young people. His best known works include The Meaning of Art (1931), Art and Society (1937), Education through Art (1931) and Icon and Idea (1955).

Herbert Read decided that his share of the Prize should be used to organise an annual lecture on ‘Unity in European Art’ to be given at the Institute of Contemporary Arts in London for a period of ten years. The lecturers included Peter Hall, Helen Vlachos, Melina Mercouri, Octavio Paz and Edward Goldstucker.