Victor H. Miesel, Professor Emeritus of History of Art, passed away peacefully on July 13, 2014. He was 85 years old.
A native of Detroit, Professor Miesel was born on October 12, 1928, the son of Victor Hugo Miesel, Sr. and Anna (Porth) Miesel, and he first studied painting, sculpture, and arts education at Wayne State University, where he received his BA in 1950. He earned his MA and PhD in 1951 and 1959, respectively, at the University of Michigan. Between 1952 and 1954, he served in the US Army Signal Corps Intelligence Unit, for which he was awarded the National Defense Service Medal and the Army Occupation Medal after his honorable discharge. He joined the faculty at U-M as an instructor in the Department of History of Art in 1957 and was promoted to assistant professor in 1961, associate professor in 1966, and professor in 1972.
Professor Miesel enjoyed an international reputation in the area of German Expressionism, the result of his book Voices of German Expressionism, An Anthology (1970/2003), two exhibitions with extensive catalogues, and numerous articles. Yet his scholarly range was wide, from his doctoral dissertation on Rubens and ancient art to reviews and essays on art in 1960s and 1970s. Equally impressive was the scope of his teaching of European and American art from the late-eighteenth century to the present, from introductory offerings to highly focused seminars, with particular emphasis on the survey of twentieth-century art and on courses in Expressionism, Picasso and Cubism, and Dada and Surrealism.
Professor Miesel lectured extensively throughout the United States and Europe, including several series with the Detroit Institute of Arts. He was also a host, in the early 1960s, of The Painter's Art, a television program with Guy Palazzola, artist and associate dean of the U-M’s School of Art. Through this collaboration, the two discussed and popularized the major ideas, styles, and movements of modern painting, bringing them to a much wider audience. Professor Miesel also served as the director of Michigan's study abroad program in Florence, where he earned a reputation for his academically and physically challenging tours of the city and its environs. He was a highly regarded professor who inspired and mentored many students. He was particularly fond of "Project Night" held as part of his twentieth-century art class and the "happenings" that frequently accompanied this course. He was also the recipient of the Wayne State University Arts Achievement Award in 1997.
Professor Miesel was preceded in death by his wife, Carolyn, in 1975, and by his parents. He is survived by his and Carolyn's three children and their spouses: Victor (Robin Amble), Catherine (Michael Moeser), and Carolyn (Kevin Calandrella), and by his six grandchildren: Susanna, Caroline, Heidi, Kristina, Max, and Gabriella. He is also survived by his wife, Vada Hays, who he married in 1993, and by his brother-in-law, Richard Grisdale (Margaret), and by numerous nieces and nephews.