Kilian Heck

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Kilian Heck (* 1968 in Nassau an der Lahn) is a German art historian . Heck is a full professor of art history at the Caspar David Friedrich Institute at the University of Greifswald and first chairman of the Association of German Art Historians .

academic career

Kilian Heck studied art history, history and classical archeology at the Goethe University in Frankfurt am Main and at the Philipps University in Marburg . From 1994 to 1997, Heck was a scholarship holder at the DFG graduate college for political iconography in Hamburg, where he also received his doctorate in 1997. With his dissertation entitled “Genealogy as a monument and argument” , Heck brought current questions into research on the function of coats of arms as a bearer of political meaning, which has long been neglected by art history . Heck's study, with which he exceeded the usual horizons of art-historical work, was often included in further research. From 1997 to 1999 he was a postdoctoral fellow at the Max Planck Institute for the History of Science in Berlin and from 1999 research assistant at the Art History Institute of the University of Heidelberg . From 2005 onwards, Heck completed his habilitation with his research and publications on the work of the painter Carl Blechen . After his habilitation in 2009/10, Heck took over the chair for art history at the University of Jena . Since 2011 he has held the chair for General Art History at the University of Greifswald at the Caspar David Friedrich Institute located there. Since 2013, Heck has also been the first chairman of the Association of German Art Historians


As part of his dissertation, Heck researched the visual symbolism of coats of arms, which were used for the dynastic legitimation of rule and which express the desire of the European high nobility for their own venerability. After he had mainly dealt with the relationships between art and natural sciences in the 19th century, his main research interests since his professorship in Greifswald have been German sepulchral sculpture and German court art of the 15th to 17th centuries, the political iconography of the early modern period and the 18th century palace architecture. As part of his restitution and provenance research, Heck deals with the history of the origins of paintings. He is also particularly interested in the art collection of Freiherr vom Stein and the works of the landscape painter Carl Blechen . In addition, the art-scientific consideration of landscape gardens, especially the Dessau-Wörlitz Garden Realm , is one of his focal points.

Public work and political engagement

On March 22, 2013, Heck was elected First Chairman of the German Art Historians Association and in this function opened the 33rd German Art Historians' Day in 2015. In 2017 he was re-elected at the 34th German Art Historians' Day in Dresden. After his election, Heck increasingly participated in public discourses. Heck is committed to the renovation of the castle in Steinort . As a specialist in landscaped gardens and the design of natural spaces and a member of the German National Committee for the Protection of Monuments , Heck campaigns against the excessive installation of wind turbines and calls for more political commitment to preserve the landscape.



  • Kilian Heck, Beate Gohrenz (ed.): Verification. On the reception history of Carl Blechen's works . Lukas Verlag, Berlin 2018, ISBN 978-3-86732-288-1 .
  • Kilian Heck, Sabine Bock , Jana Olschewski (Eds.): Castles and mansions of the Baltic Sea region. Castles and Manor Houses in the Baltic Sea Region. Building blocks of a European cultural landscape. Components of an European Cultural Heritage . Thomas Helms Verlag , Schwerin 2017, ISBN 978-3-944033-24-2 .
  • Kilian Heck: Essay on Steinort Castle. In: Antje Vollmer: Double life: Heinrich and Gottliebe von Lehndorff in the resistance against Hitler and von Ribbentrop. 2010.
  • Kilian Heck: Essay on Carl Blechen. In: Rosa von der Schulenburg (ed.): Carl Blechen. Drawn with light. The Amalfi sketchbook from the art collection of the Akademie der Künste, Berlin. An exhibition in collaboration with the Hamburger Kunsthalle, the Nationalgalerie, Staatliche Museen zu Berlin, and the Casa di Goethe, Rome. Berlin, Akademie der Künste, (2009).
  • Kilian Heck, Christian Thielemann (ed.): Friedrichstein. The castle of the Counts of Dönhoff in East Prussia . Deutscher Kunstverlag, Munich and Berlin 2006, ISBN 3-422-07361-2 (2019 (extended new edition)).
  • Kilian Heck: The relation of art to life. Franz Kugler and the first academic teaching program in art history. In: Ingo Herklotz and Marcus Kiefer (eds.): Marburger Jahrbuch für Kunstwissenschaft 32, 2005.
  • Kilian Heck: Genealogy as a monument and argument. The contribution of dynastic coats of arms to the political formation of space in modern times. Deutscher Kunstverlag, Munich 2002.
  • Kilian Heck: The foundation of the assertion of power. Pedigree as a basic genealogical structure of the modern age. In: Sigrid Weigel (Ed.): Genealogy and Genetics. Interfaces between biology and cultural history. Akademie Verlag, Berlin, 2002.
  • Kilian Heck: Grave monuments and social space formation. Dietrich von Fürstenberg and the grave monuments of the cathedral chapter in Paderborn cathedral. In: Beyer, Andreas, Ulrich Schütte and Lutz Unbehaun (Red.): Portrait, Prince and Territory. Thuringian State Museum. Rudolstadt Research on Residence Culture Volume 2., Berlin, Munich: Deutscher Kunstverlag, 2001.
  • Kilian Heck and Cornelia Jöchner: Kemp-Reader: Selected writings by Wolfgang Kemp on the occasion of his 60th birthday .
  • Kilian Heck and Bernhard Jahn: Genealogy as a way of thinking in the Middle Ages and early modern times , Metzler Collection, 2000.
  • Kilian Heck: pedigree and family tree. Two genealogical models and their mnemonic upgrade in early modern dynasties. In: Jörg Jochen Berns / Wolfgang Neuber (ed.): Soul machines. Generic traditions, functions and performance limits of mnemonics from the late Middle Ages to the beginning of modern times (Early Modern Studies New Series 2), Vienna et al. 2000.

Web links

Individual evidence

  1. Milos Vec: Germans like to count ancestors. Kilian Heck studies the role of genealogy in space and time. Frankfurter Allgemeine Zeitung, January 22, 2003, No. 18, p. 34.
  2. Sabine Fastert: Kilian rear: Genealogy as a monument and argument. sehepunkte - Review journal for the historical sciences, issue 3/2003, No. 5.
  3. Andreas Rosmann: Die Gurlitts, FAZ, July 7, 2014.
  4. ^ Board of Directors, German Association of Art Historians. Accessed June 1, 2013.
  5. ^ Greeting from Prof. Dr. Kilian Heck, first chairman of the Association of German Art Historians eV, at the opening of the 33rd German Art Historians' Day 2015.
  6. Chief art historian: Wind turbines spoil city views Ostsee-Zeitung from March 25, 2013
  7. ^ Members, German National Committee for Monument Protection. Accessed July 2, 2015.