Professor Michael Podro

Click to follow
The Independent Online

Michael Podro was an outstanding art historian, writes Professor Dr Sergiusz Michalski [further to the obituary by Charles Saumarez Smith, 1 April]. He was also – despite occasional fits of temper – a kind and caring man.

As if inspired by the erstwhile name of his Polish-Jewish family from Ciechanow (Podroznik, which means "voyager" and was later anglicised to Podro), he travelled all over the European intellectual continent (excepting maybe the South) combining an English analytical and sceptical tradition with a wonderful grasp of the aesthetic legacy of German idealist philosophy and a thorough understanding of the ideas and conditions of the East European intelligentsia.

Continuing the latter's tradition of coffee-house discourse, Podro displayed his impressive learning often through brilliant conversation, maybe somewhat to the detriment of the written word. The death of Michael Podro ends in my opinion the fascinating strand of a mélange of the Central European mode of thinking with the English intellectual tradition, a strand which shaped much of the English humanities in the years after 1933.