Roger Lipsey, PhD

Roger Lipsey, PhD


Biographer, art historian, editor, and translator, Roger’s career as a scholar and author recalls in part the pattern in Kierkegaard’s Either/Or: a slow movement from aesthetics to ethics to religion and spirituality, and from there to the exploration of community. After graduating Yale College, where he studied English literature with Harold Bloom, John Hollander, and other formidable teachers, Roger turned toward the history of art and completed the MA and PhD at New York University’s Institute of Fine Arts, where his experience included the last seminar offered by Irwin Panofsky, coursework and thesis direction with Stella Kramrisch, and a minor in Islamic art with Richard Ettinghausen.

Roger has been associated with Indian cultural study since the publication in 1977 of his trilogy of works by and about the art historian, religious philosopher, and social critic Ananda K. Coomaraswamy (Bollingen Series, Princeton University Press). Following the model of Coomaraswamy, he has since researched and written along a continuum defined by visual art, literature, spirituality, and society.

Roger’s book of 2013, Hammarskjöld: A Life (the first major biography in 40 years), was published to uniformly excellent reviews by the University of Michigan Press, and he has since lectured at United Nations headquarters as well as at the UN System Staff College in Turin, Geneva, Cape Town, and elsewhere, on Dag Hammarskjöld’s life and thought. Roger’s website,, is a significant online resource.

Roger is a recognized expert on the monk and author Thomas Merton. His groundbreaking book, Angelic Mistakes: The Art of Thomas Merton (Shambhala Publications, 2006), received an award from the International Thomas Merton Society as the best book on Merton in that two-year period. Roger’s more recent book on Merton, Make Peace Before the Sun Goes Down (Shambhala Publications, 2015), extremely well received, has led to opportunities to lecture to the monastic community at Merton’s own abbey, Gethsemani, and at a monastic conference in northern California.

Roger’s most recent publications are Gurdjieff Reconsidered: The Life, the Teachings, the Legacy and the forthcoming Politics and Conscience: Dag Hammarskjöld on the Art of Ethical Leadership.


  • Ph.D., M.A., Institute of Fine Arts, New York University
  • B.A. magna cum laude, Yale College 


Phi Beta Kappa Society, International PEN, Elizabethan Club of Yale University


  • The Society for the Study of Myth and Tradition (publisher of Parabola magazine)
  • The Merton Annual (editorial advisory board)
  • The Gurdjieff Foundation of New York
  • The Gurdjieff Society of Massachusetts


  • 2020    Politics and Conscience: Dag Hammarskjöld on the Art of Ethical Leadership, Boulder: Shambhala Publications (release: 25 February 2020)
  • 2019    Gurdjieff  Reconsidered: The Life, the Teachings, the Legacy, Boulder: Shambhala Publications
  • 2015    Make Peace Before the Sun Goes Down: The Long Encounter of Thomas Merton and his Abbot, James Fox, Boston: Shambhala Publications
  • 2013    Hammarskjöld: A Life, Ann Arbor: University of Michigan Press
  • 2010    René Daumal, Letters on the Search for Awakening, 1930-1944, translated by Gabriela Ansari and Roger Lipsey, with an introduction by Roger Lipsey, Toronto: Dolmen Meadow Editions
  • 2006    Angelic Mistakes: The Art of Thomas Merton, Boston: Shambhala Publications / New Seeds
  • 2003    The Invisible Thread: Buddhist Spirit in Contemporary Art, co-curator of the exhibition at Snug Harbor Cultural Center (Staten Island, NY) and author of one of the introductory essays
  • 2001    Have you been to Delphi?  Tales of the Ancient Oracle for Modern Minds, Albnay: State University of New York Press
  • 1988    An Art of Our Own: The Spiritual in Twentieth-Century Art, Boston: Shambhala Publications (paperback edition, 1989; reissued in 2004 and currently in print under the subtitle by Dover Books)
  • 1981    Daedalus: Studies in Honor of the Birth Centenary of Ananda K. Coomaraswamy, Dharwar (India): Institute of Indian Art History
  • 1977    Coomaraswamy: Selected Papers, in two volumes (1: Traditional Art and Symbolism; 2: Metaphysics), edited with an introduction, Princeton: Bollingen Series, Princeton University Press (a selection with the introduction appeared in Italian, 1987, Adelphi Edizioni, under the title Il grande brivido: Saggi di simbolica e arte)
  • 1977    Coomaraswamy: Life and Work, Princeton: Bollingen Series, Princeton University Press