The art historian Bruce Cole was sworn in December 11, 2001, as the eighth chairman of the National Endowment for the Humanities (NEH). Previously, he taught for twenty-eight years at Indiana University in Bloomington, where he was distinguished professor of fine arts and chairman of the Department of the History of Art.
Cole has written fourteen books, many of them about the Renaissance. They include The Renaissance Artist at Work; Sienese Painting in the Age of the Renaissance: Italian Art, 1250-1550; The Relation of Art to Life and Society; Titian and Venetian Art, 1450-1590; and Art of the Western World: From Ancient Greece to Post-Modernism. His most recent book is The Informed Eye: Understanding Masterpieces of Western Art (Chicago: University of Chicago Press, 1999). Cole received his BA from Case Western Reserve University in Cleveland, Ohio, his MA from Oberlin College in Oberlin, Ohio, and his Ph.D. in 1969 from Bryn Mawr College in Bryn Mawr, Pa.
Cole’s relationship with the NEH dates from 1971, when he was awarded a fellowship to do research on “The Origins and Development of Early Florentine Painting.” He has served as a panelist in the NEH’s peer-review system, and in 1992 was named by President George H. W. Bush to the National Council on the Humanities, the NEH’s twenty-six-member advisory board, where he served for seven years.