Aby Warburg: Bilderatlas Mnemosyne - The Original

Aby Warburg: Bilderatlas Mnemosyne - The Original

Haus der Kulturen der Welt (HKW)

Aby Warburg, Bilderatlas Mnemosyne, Tafel 39 (recovered). Photo: Wootton / fluid.

March 3, 2020
Aby Warburg: Bilderatlas Mnemosyne - The Original
April 2–June 22, 2020
Haus der Kulturen der Welt (HKW)
John-Foster-Dulles-Allee 10
10557 Berlin

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Between Cosmos and Pathos
April 2–June 28, Berlin Works from Aby Warburg’s Bilderatlas Mnemosyne
Gemäldegalerie, Kulturforum

On the Road Map of Pictorial History
April 14–16, Three-day guided tour of all panels of the Bilderatlas Mnemosyne
Haus der Kulturen der Welt (HKW), Berlin

May 15–16
Haus der Kulturen der Welt (HKW), Berlin

Aby Warburg studied the interplay of images from different periods and cultural contexts. He designed the Bilderatlas Mnemosyne to provide a pictorial representation of the influences of the ancient world in the Renaissance and beyond. The Bilderatlas 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 1929, 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. During the course of its creation, the Atlas developed into an instrument of cognition.

Warburg’s methodology set new standards: it consisted in rearranging canonized images and looking at them across epochs. His project traversed the boundaries between art history, philosophy and anthropology and was fundamental for the modern disciplines of visual and media studies. Today, his use of visual memory provides inspiration and alternative routes through a reality dominated by visual media.

The exhibition at HKW restores the last documented version of the 1929 Bilderatlas almost completely with the original illustrations. In collaboration with the Warburg Institute in London, the curators Roberto Ohrt and Axel Heil have located most of the 971 illustrations from the 450,000 objects in the Institute’s Photographic Collection to show Warburg’s unfinished magnum opus for the first time since his death. At Haus der Kulturen der Welt all 63 panels of the Atlas will be recovered for the first time from Warburg’s original images. Parallel to the exhibition at HKW, the Staatliche Museen zu Berlin will show works of art from prehistory and early history to modern times, which Warburg used as the basis for his encyclopedic picture collection at the Gemäldegalerie.

Aby Warburg’s research approach was interdisciplinary, collaborative and international. What concepts came about due to his open assessments of artists such as Domenico Ghirlandaio and Albrecht Dürer? What significance did thinkers and researchers like Ernst Cassirer and Gertrud Bing have for the “workshop” in which the Bildatlas Mnemosyne took shape? During a two day conference (May 15-16) at HKW scholars and curators discuss the concepts that were developed there and how they continue to influence contemporary art history and visual studies.

With Linda Báez-Rubí, Mirjam Brusius, Philippe Despoix, Burcu Dogramaci, Steffen Haug, Axel Heil, Carole Maigné, Eckart Marchand, Johannes von Müller, Roberto Ohrt, Ulrich Pfisterer, Elizabeth Sears, Bill Sherman, Joacim Sprung, Giovanna Targia, Tullio Viola, Matthew Vollgraf, Claudia Wedepohl

Two evening programs (May 14 and June 22) between a slideshow and audio play measure the limits of anthropologically based art history, which examines both images and cosmologies. The focus is on, for example, Warburg’s famous text on the snake ritual of the Hopi in Arizona. How can the relationship between colonial violence, subjective psychological healing and processes of transculturation be made describable?
By Anselm Franke, Erhard Schüttpelz, Ryan Smith, Ulrich van Loyen and others

The exhibition at HKW is curated by Roberto Ohrt and Axel Heil in cooperation with the Warburg Institute, London.
The exhibition at the Gemäldegalerie is curated by Neville Rowley and Jörg Völlnagel.

A folio volume (44 x 60 cm, 184 pages) gathers the 63 plates of Warburg’s Atlas—newly photographed from the original, multi-colored images, along with essays by Axel Heil, Roberto Ohrt, Bernd Scherer, Bill Sherman and Claudia Wedepohl. It will be published for the exhibition opening by Hatje Cantz, followed in Fall 2020 by a volume with extensive commentaries by the curators.

A companion guide to the exhibition of the Staatliche Museen zu Berlin at the Gemäldegalerie will be published by Deutscher Kunstverlag.

Also on view at HKW May 15-June 22: Pauline Curnier Jardin, Ariella Azoulay, New Red Order (video, installations)

Aby Warburg: Bilderatlas Mnemosyne - The Original, part of The New Alphabet (2019-2021) is supported by the State Minister for Culture and the Media due to a ruling of the German Bundestag.

Press Contacts:
Haus der Kulturen der Welt
Anne Maier
T +49 30 39787 153
anne.maier [​at​] hkw.de

Gemäldegalerie, Kulturforum
Elisabeth Pannrucker
T +49 30 266 42 3401
presse [​at​] smb.spk-berlin.de

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March 3, 2020

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