Józef Grabski
PhD in Art History
Founder and Director of the International Institue for Art Historical Research IRSA
(founded in Venice in 1979)
Editor-in-Chief of

Born in Warsaw in 1950. In 1968 he passed his secondary school leaving examination at the French secondary school in Warsaw. In 1968–1972 he studied art history at the University of Warsaw, graduating with a master’s thesis about iconography of Renaissance Venetian painting (his advisor was Prof. Dr. Jan Białostocki). In the years 1971 and 1972 he repeatedly held scholarships and did research at the Fondazione Cini in Venice. In 1971 he was chosen by Henryk Stażewski (the laureate of the “Gottfried-von-Herder Preis” in 1971) to be awarded the scholarship of the Herder Prize. From 1972 he continued studies in art history at the University of Vienna . In 1973 he participated in the CIHA International Congress of Art History in Granada (Spain). In 1976, at the University of Vienna, he defended his doctorate which dealt with the Polish modernist painter Leon Chwistek and his “zones theory” in painting. During the years 1975 and 1976 he undertook further research at the Fondazione R. Longhi and the Villa I Tatti (Harvard University) in Florence. As their result he published articles on Donatello, Titian, Lorenzo Lotto, Tintoretto, Padovano and Algardi. In 1977 he was awarded Prof. Karolina Lanckorońska’s (Foundation Lanckoroński) scholarship to pursue further research on the art of the Italian Renaissance.

After the CIHA International Congress of Art History in Bologna in 1979, together with an international group of scholars (André Chastel, Jan Białostocki, Federico Zeri, W. Roger Rearick, Hermann Fillitz), he founded the International Institute for Art Historical Research IRSA (Istituto per le Ricerche di Storia dell’Arte) with headquarters in Venice and became its director. The following year, in 1980, he started publishing a scholarly art-historical journal entitled Artibus et Historiae, of which he has been the editor ever since. The journal has hitherto published hundreds of papers, written by scholars from all over the world.

In 1990, in Vienna, he established a fine arts gallery named “Apollo Art Galleries”. From 1980 he worked on building a collection of fine arts for Barbara Piasecka Johnson. Part of this important collection was shown in the exhibition, “OPUS SACRUM”, held at the Royal Castle Warsaw and co-organised by Józef Grabski and Prof. Andrzej Rottermund.

Józef Grabski has developed special ties with Japan, where he co-created two great museum collections of European art, namely that of Marubeni and Takeuchi. Since 1992 he has held lectures as a visiting professor at the Art History Department of the Sendai University (Tohoku Daigaku) focusing on Raphael, Titian, Tintoretto, and Van Dyck, among others. In 1996 a branch of IRSA, dealing with mutual relations of European and Asian art, was established at the Sendai University (dir. Prof. Hidemichi Tanaka). Since 2008 he has been an adviser of museums in China (Beijing, Shanghai), where he organizes also art exhibitions.

His wide-ranging scholarly research encompasses the work of Donatello, Giorgione, Titian, Lorenzo Lotto, Paris Bordone, Tintoretto, Caravaggio, Caroselli, Algardi, Rubens, Van Dyck, Artemisia Gentileschi, Vermeer van Delft, and Rembrandt. The main area of Józef Grabski’s interest is, however, modern European art.

Józef Grabski’s wife, Maria, is a co-founder of IRSA and designer of layouts for many of IRSA’s publications. She is a psychologist, having studied also art history and comparative studies of civilizations. They have four children: Barbara, Mathias, Krystyna and Joanna.