Bruce Cole is the eighth chairman of the National Endowment for the Humanities. He came to the Endowment in December 2001 from Indiana University in Bloomington, where he was a professor of art history and of comparative literature.
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.
Cole was born in Ohio and attended Case Western Reserve University. He earned his master’s degree from Oberlin College and his doctorate in 1969 from Bryn Mawr College. For two years he was the William E. Suida Fellow at the Kunsthistorisches Institut in Florence. He has held fellowships and grants from the Guggenheim Foundation, American Council of Learned Societies, Kress Foundation, American Philosophical Society, Center for Medieval and Renaissance Studies at the University of California, Los Angeles, and National Endowment for the Humanities.
His relationship with the Endowment 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 NEH’s peer review system, and in 1992 he was named by President George H.W. Bush to the National Council on the Humanities, the Endowment’s 26-member advisory board. He served for seven years.
At Indiana, Cole was distinguished professor of fine arts, professor of comparative literature and chairman of the department of the history of art at the Hope School of Fine Arts. He is a corresponding member of the Accademia Senese degli Intronati, the oldest learned society in Europe, and a founder and former co-president of the Association for Art History.
He and his wife Doreen live in the District of Columbia and have two grown children.