Metadata: how we relate to images


Metadata: how we relate to images

The Lethaby Gallery, Central Saint Martins, Granary Square, London

10 January 2018 – 3 February 2018

Disentangled N°1, 2017 Nora Al-Badri and Nikolai Nelles, Ditone print, Courtesy: Nora Al-Badri, Nikolai Nelles | NOME Gallery Berlin

An exhibition curated by the International Research Project “Bilderfahrzeuge. Aby Warburg’s Legacy and the Future of Iconology’ and presented in cooperation with Central Saint Martins, University of the Arts London.

This exhibition arises out of a longstanding collaboration between artists and academics from Central Saint Martins and the Research Project Bilderfahrzeuge. It focuses on the role of metadata – data that provides information about other data – in art and art history. The show includes work by established and emerging artists, loans by the British Museum, NOME Gallery (Berlin), Herald Street Gallery (London) and private collections. They will stand alongside an imaginative reinvestigation of CSM’s own Museum and Study Collection, comprised of teaching objects relevant to the many arts disciplines taught at CSM as well as work by former students.

For all enquiries related to the exhibition, please contact:


The exhibition is accompanied by a series of panel discussions and a workshop in which curators, artists and academics will discuss some of the overarching themes of Metadata: how we relate to images. Weiterlesen

Lecture: The Relic as Image: Prophetic Aura in an Age of Technological Reproducibility

Schematic of the sandal of the Prophet Muhammad

Professor Finbarr Barry Flood

William R. Kenan Jr. Professor of the Humanities

Institute of Fine Arts and College of Arts and Sciences, New York University

London, 14 June 2017, 5:30 pm

Warburg Institute
Woburn Square
London WC1H 0AB

Admission free; please register for this event through the Events section of the School of Advanced Study (SAS) here.

Among the most celebrated relics of the Prophet Muhammad was his sandal. Tracings made from the most famous sandal relic, kept in Damascus, were believed to circulate the blessings (baraka) of the Prophet. These indexes of the relic as outline were often copied in their turn, generating an enchained series that enabled the sandal and its blessings to travel well beyond the site of the relic’s enshrinement. This tradition continued into modernity, when new print technologies were applied to the reproduction of the sandal image. Such images raise significant questions about mediation and the ontology of the devotional image in modernity.

Lecture: Return of Images: Chance Encounters in the Afterlives of Antiquity

Alberto Giacometti, Study after a Sumerian Sculpture, 1937, blue ball point pen and paper

Professor Zainab Bahrani

Edith Porada Professor of Ancient Near Eastern Art and Archaeology

Columbia University

London, 10 May 2017, 5:30 pm

Warburg Institute
Woburn Square
London WC1H 0AB

Admission free; please register for this event through the Events section of the School of Advanced Study (SAS) here.

The chance encounter with images from the past can be understood as an aspect of the Nachleben der Antike, one of Aby Warburg’s scholarly preoccupations. In the ancient Near East, such encounters with images from a distant past had profound effects, both visual and theoretical.  Artworks transmitted historically specific forms and iconographies across time, but they were also forms of infinite presence without duration. This lecture addresses the status and influence of such rediscovered images beyond the traditional disciplinary boundaries, and brings ancient art into the current theoretical debates surrounding art and time.

Leonardo Adrift. Propaganda as “Bilderfahrzeug”

Blog Post – Victor Claass February 2017

Leonardo Adrift. Propaganda as “Bilderfahrzeug

In the harbor of Genoa in early December, 1929, under the intimidating gaze of “steel helmeted fascist militiamen”, a team of art handlers carefully loaded 350 masterpieces of Italian art into the aptly named steamer Leonardo-da-Vinci. Among them were the t
hree sculptures of David by Donatello, Michelangelo and Verrocchio, as well as major paintings by Duccio, Masaccio, Piero della Francesca, Pietro Lorenzetti, Raphael and many other celebrated old masters. Borrowed – thanks to the personal involvement of Benito Mussolini – from the Italian public and private collections, theses artifacts were meticulously placed in the ship’s cargo hold, “lashed firmly and wedged with mattresses
and lifebelts, preventing the slightest movement” (Sheffield Independent, 1929) . Escorted by several tugs, the Leonardo began its journey towards London, where its priceless freight was to be displayed at the much awaited Royal Academy’s exhibit, Italian Art 1200-1900.

The arrival of the Leonardo-da-Vinci in London. Upper left corner: Lady Chamberlain greeting Ettore Modigliani. Sheffield Independent, December 13, 1929.


Lecture Series 2016-17

The Bilderfahrzeuge Lecture Series at the Warburg Institute 2016-17


(also available as a PDF)

5 October 2016 Roger Sabin Central Saint Martins UAL The Origins of Comics Criticism  
16 November 2016 Mechthild Fend UCL Medusa’s Hair. Images, Diseases and Terror in Post-Revolutionary France
14 December 2016 Stephen Bann Bristol Paul Delaroche’s Egyptian Excursion: the studies in preparation for Moses on the Nile (1853)
11 January 2017 Sachiko Kusukawa  Cambridge Copying as a form of knowing: early modern scientific images
8 February 2017 Tristan Weddigen Zürich Heinrich Wölfflin in the Hispanic World
1 March 2017 Tamar Garb UCL Constance Stuart’s War: Women and Documentary’s Excess.
10 May 2017  Zainab Bahrani Columbia Return of Images: Chance Encounters in the Afterlives of Antiquity
14 June 2017 Finbarr Barry Flood New York University The Relic as Image: Prophetic Aura in an Age of Technological Reproducibility


Lecture: Constance Stuart’s War: Women and Documentary’s Excess

Professor Tamar Garb

Durning-Lawrence Chair of History of Art
Department of History of Art,

University College London (UCL)

London, 1 March 2017, 5:30 pm

Warburg Institute
Woburn Square
London WC1H 0AB

Admission free; please register for this event through the Events section of the School of Advanced Study (SAS) here.

This lecture looks at a remarkable photograph taken by the South African war correspondent in WW2, Constance Stuart (Larrabee) at the moment of the liberation of France. The photograph, one of nine in a series, depicts one of the femmes tondues the sheared women collectively punished for having ‘associated with the Germans’. It is read in relation to other photographs in the series as well as the agenda of Libertas, the first picture magazine in South Africa, for whom Stuart worked. But there is more to Stuart’s relationship to the image than the need to document the occasion. What seeps out from the image is something that exceeds documentary’s desire, inadvertently articulating both the photographer’s and the protagonist’s position in history.

Lecture: Heinrich Wölfflin in the Hispanic World

Professor Tristan Weddigentristanweddigenlectureimage

Chair for Early Modern Art
Kunsthistorisches Institut
University of Zürich

Rudolf Wittkower Visting Professor
Bibliotheca Hertziana, Rome

London, 8 February 2017, 5:30 pm

Admission free; please register for this event through the Events section of the School of Advanced Study (SAS) here.

Warburg Institute
Woburn Square
London WC1H 0AB

One century from the first publication of one of the most influential books of art history, Heinrich Wölfflin’s „Principles of Art History“ of 1915, Professor Weddigen’s paper will explore one major part of its global reception: its impact on Hispanic and Latin American art and architectural history and aesthetics since the 1920s. The aim is to show how Kunstwissenschaft was translated, adopted, and appropriated for the construction of national, political, ethnic identities.

Lecture: Uses of images in early modern scientific knowledge

Professor Sachiko Kusukawagessnerpelicanzentralbibliothekzurich2120657

Fellow in History and Philosophy of Science
Trinity College

London, 11 January 2017, 5:30 pm

Admission free; please register for this event through the Events section of the School of Advanced Study (SAS) here.

Warburg Institute
Woburn Square
London WC1H 0AB

Professor Kuskawa will give a paper arguing for the importance of images as a versatile means of shaping and transmitting scientific knowledge in the early modern period. Traditionally, historians of science have looked to illustrations in early printed books as evidence of first-hand observation.  But a large number of these illustrations, including those labeled as ‘ad vivum’, turn out to be images copied from elsewhere. Copying images was undertaken for a variety of reasons in the early modern period, including as a way to save time and money for the printers. Rather than a disappointing, inferior iteration of first-hand observation, I propose that copying was a necessary and versatile means of shaping and sharing scientific knowledge, but as with any form of transmission, copying entailed some process of transformation and translation. This paper will discuss the many different uses through which images came to constitute early modern scientific knowledge.

Congratulations #20: Pablo Schneider (Ed.): Edgar Wind – Die Bildsprache Michelangelos

Edgar Wind – Die Bildsprache Michelangelos (Berlin 2017)

Pablo Schneider (Hrsg.)/(Ed.)

Research Associate, Bilderfahrzeuge Project

1936 stellte der Kunsthistoriker und Philosoph Edgar Wind sein Manuskript zu Michelangelos Deckenfresken der Sixtinischen Kapelle fertig. Wind begriff den christlichen Erlösungsgedanken als fundamentales Thema des gesamten Raumes und erkannte ein polares Beziehungsgeflecht, welches ihm das Bildprogramm vollständig erschloss. Methodische Ansätze Aby Warburgs aufnehmend, dessen Mitarbeiter Wind in Hamburg war, analysierte er die Themenwahl Michelangelos. Obwohl fertiggestellt, wurde das Werk nie veröffentlicht. Es liegt nun erstmals in gedruckter Fassung vor, begleitet von einem ausführlichen Nachwort des Herausgebers.

Lecture: Paul Delaroche’s Egyptian Excursion: The Studies in Preparation for Moses on the Nile (1853)

Professor Stephen Bannstephenbanndelarocheimage

Emeritus Professor of History of Art, Research
Fellow in History of Art (Historical Studies)
University of Bristol

London, 14 December 2016, 5:30 pm

Admission free; please register for this event on our Eventbrite page here.

Warburg Institute
Woburn Square
London WC1H 0AB

Paul Delaroche’s drawings and oil studies reveal his tendency to ponder a range of different iconographic sources over a long period.The preparation of his Moses on the Nile is a particularly interesting example, since some of the original drawings in the Louvre are customarily attributed to the early 1840s, while the large painting (originally in the collection of Baron James de Rothschild, but now lost) is dated 1853. A drawing that has recently come to light indicates Delaroche’s initial debt to the paintings on the subject by Nicolas Poussin.