Born 1963 in Baltimore, MD/USA.
Studied history, German language and literature and art history in Geneva, Vienna and Berlin from 1983 until 1993. In 1993 he completed his doctorate degree with Werner Busch.
From 1992 until 1993 he was the head assistant at the University of Geneva and from 1993 until 1999 at the ETH Zurich. From 1997 until 2000 Ursprung was a guest professor at the Ecole supérieure d’art visuel, Geneva and in 1998 at the Kunsthochschule Berlin-Weißensee. From 1999 until 2001 he was a guest professor at the Universität der Künste Berlin. From 2001 until 2005 Ursprung had a professorship funded by the Nationalsfonds (Förderungsprofessur) for contemporary art history at the ETH Zurich. Since 2005 he is professor for modern and contemporary art at the University of Zurich. In 2007 he is also guest professor at the Graduate School for Architecture, Planning, and Preservation of Columbia University New York.
Other activities include: 1990-1996 co-curator at the Kunsthalle Palazzo, Liestal/Switzerland; 1999 co-curator of the exhibition “White Fire – Flying Man: Amerikanische Kunst in Basel, 1959–1999“, Museum for Contemporary Art, Basel; 2002-2004 guest curator at the Canadian Centre for Architecture, Montréal, Canada (exhibition: Herzog & de Meuron: Archeology of the Mind, 2002).
Publications: “Images: A Picture Book of Architecture” (co-author, Munich 2004); “Grenzen der Kunst: Allan Kaprow und das Happening, Robert Smithson und die Land Art” (Munich 2003); “Herzog & de Meuron: Naturgeschichte” (ed., Montreal and Baden 2002); “White Fire – Flying Man: Amerikanische Kunst in Basel 1959–1999”, (exhibition catalog 1999, co-editor); “Kritik und Secession: Das Atelier – Kunstkritik in Berlin zwischen 1890 und 1897”, (Basel 1996); “Kunstkritik – Die Sehnsucht nach der Norm” (Munich 1993, co-author). He has also written numerous articles in German and English magazines, books and exhibition catalogues on the history of art and architecture in the 19th and 20th century, as well as on contemporary art.
Numerous lectures on art and architecture. From 1997 until 2004 Ursprung was a member of the “Eidgenössischen Kunstkommission”. Since 2003 he is a member of the “Stiftungsrat des Schweizerischen Architekturmuseums Basel” and president of the “Fondation Nestlé pour l’Art”.
In accordance with his research project “Value of the surface. The history of space concepts in art, architecture and economy in the 20th century“ and his lectures on images of work and workspaces (“Work, Unemployment and Performance“, winter semester 2005/2006) Ursprung is familiar with interdisciplinary thinking, especially with the interdependent influence of art, science and economy.
Philip Ursprung is the Akademie jury chair from 2007 to 2009.