As such, the Mnemosyne Atlas strives to make the ineffable process of historical change and recurrence immanent and comprehensible. More specifically, the Atlas would chart both the afterlife of the classical language of gestures in Renaissance art and beyond as well as the migration of Greek cosmological symbolism up through to the moment when Bruno and Kepler tried to reconcile the legacies of classical and astrological thought with the discoveries of early modern astronomy. The Atlas functions cartographically, too, as it explores how meanings are constituted by the movement of themes and styles between East and West, North and South. Using wooden boards, measuring approximately x cm and covered with black cloth, Warburg arranged and rearranged, in a lengthy combinatory process of addition and substraction, black and white photographs of art-historical and cosmographical images.
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In the 18th century the Warburgs moved to Altona near Hamburg. Two brothers Warburg founded the banking firm M.
Aby Warburg showed an early interest in literature and history and the second eldest son, Max Warburg went into the Hamburg bank, younger brothers Paul and Felix also entered banking. Max Warburg established the Warburg family bank as a "global player". Childhood and youth[ edit ] Max Warburg Warburg grew up in a conservative Jewish home environment. Early on he demonstrated an unstable, unpredictable and volatile temperament. Warburg as a child reacted against the religious rituals which were punctiliously observed in his family, and rejected all career plans envisaged for him.
He did not want to be a rabbi, as his grandmother wished, nor a doctor or lawyer. Against the resistance Aby Warburg met with from his relatives, he forced through his plans to study art history. Primavera In Warburg began his study of art history, history and archaeology in Bonn and attended the lectures on the history of religion by Hermann Usener , those on cultural history by Karl Lamprecht and on art history by Carl Justi.
From to he studied the sources of these pictures at the Kunsthistorisches Institut in Florence. He was now interested in applying the methods of natural science to the human sciences. The dissertation was completed in and printed in After receiving his doctorate Warburg studied for two semesters at the Medical Faculty of the University of Berlin , where he attended lectures on psychology.
During this period he undertook a further trip to Florence. Cushing had lived for years with the Zuni in New Mexico and fascinated Warburg wanted to see the Pueblos for himself. First stop in the west was Mesa Verde to see the Ancestral Pueblo cliff dwellings. In Cochiti Warburg spoke to a priest and his son and received a cosmological drawing with a snake at its center. The Hopi of Arizona were already famous for their snake dance and although April was too early in the year to see this tourist attraction, the time he spent with the Hopi was a most important part of his long journey.
Warburg was fascinated with their still secluded culture, their architecture, ritual, their masks and their ages-old abstract painting on pottery Nampeyo had recently revived. Mennonite missionary Heinrich R. Voth shared his knowledge of Hopi religion. Thanks to Voth he could also observe the preparations for this end-of-winter ceremony.
The most famous photo of the trip shows Warburg holding a half naked dancer resting. In New York the social life of the Schiffs and Loebs seemed empty and futile, and Warburg was very impressed with the dead seriousness of Hopi ritual. Writing up his field notes for a now famous lecture at the Kreuzlingen sanatorium Warburg stressed the kinship of religious thinking in Athens and Oraibi.
Warburg — In Warburg and his wife took up residence in Florence. While Warburg was repeatedly plagued by depression, the couple enjoyed a lively social life. The most famous Renaissance specialist of the time, the American Bernard Berenson , was likewise in Florence at this period.
Warburg, for his part, renounced all sentimental aestheticism, and in his writings criticised a vulgarised idealisation of an individualism that had been imputed to the Renaissance in the work of Jacob Burckhardt. During his years in Florence Warburg investigated the living conditions and business transactions of Renaissance artists and their patrons as well as, more specifically, the economic situation in the Florence of the early Renaissance and the problems of the transition from the Middle Ages to the early Renaissance.
A further product of his Florentine period was his series of lectures on Leonardo da Vinci , held in at the Kunsthalle in Hamburg. The contrast evident in the painting between the constricting dress of the matrons and the lightly dressed, quick-footed figure on the far right serves as an illustration of the virulent discussion around concerning the liberation of female clothing from the standards of propriety imposed by a reactionary bourgeoisie.
Return to Hamburg[ edit ] In the family returned to Hamburg, and Warburg presented the findings of his Florentine research in a series of lectures, but at first did not take on a professorship or any other academic position.
He rejected a call to a professorship at the University of Halle in At this period signs of a mental illness were present which affected his activities as a researcher and teacher. There he was visited by Emil Kraepelin who did not confirm the diagnosis of schizophrenia and suggested Warburg was in a mixed manic-depressive state, a diagnosis with a more positive prognosis.
Last project: Mnemosyne Atlas[ edit ] In December , Warburg started to compose a work in the form of a picture atlas named Mnemosyne. It consisted of 40 wooden panels covered with black cloth, on which were pinned nearly 1, pictures from books, magazines, newspaper and other daily life sources.
Online BilderAtlas Mnemosyne
Warburg , the Mnemosyne Atlas is an unfinished attempt to map the pathways that give art history and cosmography their pathos-laden meanings. Spyros Papapetros offers this guided pathway. Panel C addresses the epistemology and the practice of the creation of symbols. Claudia Wedepohl guides this pathway. Panel 8 is given over to antique cults that centered on solar deities.
Aby Warburg studied the interplay of images from different periods and cultural contexts. He designed the Mnemosyne Atlas to provide a pictorial representation of the influences of the ancient world in the Renaissance and beyond. The Atlas consisted of large black panels on which he placed photographic reproductions of artworks from the Middle East, European antiquity and the Renaissance, alongside contemporary newspaper clippings and advertisements. In the years leading to his death in , Warburg and his closest colleagues Gertrud Bing and Fritz Saxl experimented with the form and function of the Bilderatlas. Their goal was to present a publication designed for discussion among experts as well as the broader public.