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.

Congratulations #19: Andreas Beyer: “Thinking in Pictures: What Franz Marc and Wassily Kandinsky have in common with Aby Warburg”

“Thinking in Pictures: What Franz Marc and Wassily Kandinsky have in common with Aby Warburg” in „Kandinsky, Marc & Der Blaue Reiter”, Fondation Beyeler Basel/Riehen 2016, Hajte Dantz Verlag, Berlin 2016, S. 18-23.

Andreas Beyer

Speaker of the Bilderfahrzeuge Project

In this essay, Bilderfahrzeuge Speaker Professor Andreas Beyer traces the origins of an integral element of contemporary art theory – the possibility of an intellectual and theoretical discourse based entirely on images – ‘art speaking for itself’.


‘Ghost Objects’ – 19th century paper mould techniques and the portability of antiquities

Blog Post – Anna McSweeney July 2016

Among the members of the Bilderfahrzeuge group, we have been thinking recently about  ‘immutable mobiles’ and the object-oriented theories of Bruno Latour in relation to our work on image vehicles, the movement of images. In his essay ‘Visualisation and Cognition’, Latour casts inscriptions as the explanatory principle of modern scientific culture. He uses the term ‘immutable mobiles’ to describe objects which are characterized by the properties of mobility, immutability, presentability, readibility and combinability with each other. He claims that the history of these objects is the history of scholarship in visualisation and cognition.

It seemed to me that paper moulds are a good example of an immutable mobile. Using layers of wet paper to make a negative impression of a building or object, from which a positive could be cast in plaster, paper moulds were used by archaeologists and antiquarians in the mid-nineteenth century to copy the façades of monuments that were far away, at Angkor Wat in Cambodia, Palenque in Mexico or the Alhambra in Spain, for example. Described as ‘facsimiles’ by the inventor of the technique, Lottin de Laval (1810-1903), paper moulds allowed explorers to transport a version of a building or sculpture with all its details back to the museum in the age before both digital reproduction and cheap and reliable photography. Weiterlesen

Warburg on Tapestries

by Isabella Woldt

My research project in the Bilderfahrzeuge group focuses on tapestries as mobile vehicles. The main investigation concerns the reflecting of Petrarch’s “Trionfi” in tapestries and discusses the textile as an instrument of the transfer of ideas and cultural contexts by the manufacture of elaborate materials like gold thread into the tapestry, for instance. The project arises from many years of study on the works of the Hamburg art and cultural historian Aby Warburg. Moreover, the term “Bilderfahrzeuge” has its roots in Aby Warburg’s research on tapestries. The essay below should encompass Warburg’s main discourse on that topic.

The term “Bilderfahrzeuge”, meaning ‘image vehicle’, refers to Aby Warburg’s research on the “afterlife of antiquity”. Warburg investigated the process of the migration of cultural elements as a material embodiment of the function of human memory. He observed how these cultural objects implement expressions that are the result of the human process of memorising, and how through perception these objects evoke a creative process in the human brain, which produces new thoughts. Warburg asked and investigated how that process was organised and which elements were the most influential in that practice of creation, and he called those elements the “pathos formula”. Weiterlesen

Adjø, Matisse! Abschiedsfeier für ein migrierendes Gemälde

Oslo Ausstellung

Es wird gemeinhin angenommen, dass ein Museum die letzte Station auf dem Wanderweg eines Kunstwerks ist; allerdings gibt es auch Fälle, in denen es zum Ausgangspunkt einer neuen Reise wird. Das kann zum einen freiwillig, durch Verkauf, geschehen, zum anderen auch unfreiwillig, durch Plünderung im Krieg oder durch Raub. Nicht selten muss ein Kunstwerk aber auch deswegen weiterziehen, weil es vor seinem Eintritt in die Sammlung ein Beutestück war. Bei der Dame in Blau vor einem Kamin (1937) von Henri Matisse war das der Fall. Als der Gründer des Henie Onstand Kunstsenters (HOK) in Oslo das Bild vor über 60 Jahren erwarb, Weiterlesen

Workshop “Migrating Histories of Art. Self-Translations of a Discipline”

8 – 9 October 2015

Annual Workshop of the International Research Group Bilderfahrzeuge. Aby Warburg’ legacy and the future of Iconology at the Kunsthistorische Institut Florence

organized by Maria Teresa Costa and Hans Christian Hönes


Aby Warburg: Bilingual Manuscript of “I costumi teatrali”, WIA III.42.1, fol [41] © The Warburg Institute, University of London

The workshop situates itself at the crossroads of art history and translation studies, exploring, for the first time, the problem of self-translation in the realm of art writing. One the one hand it seeks to provide a theoretical framework from Translation Studies, on the other hand it aims to offer case-studies from Art History and related fields, providing a unique and comprehensive overview on how a discipline defines itself through cultural transfers. Weiterlesen

The Akkadian term ṣalmu: Some remarks on the concept of ‘image’ in Mesopotamia in the second and first millennia B.C.

Stele of Assurnasirpal II ( Reign: 883-859 B. C.). In: Layard, A. H., Discoveries in the ruins of Nineveh and Babylon; with travels in Armenia, Kurdistan and the desert, London 1853, p. 350.

Stele of Assurnasirpal II ( Reign: 883-859 B. C.). In: Layard, A. H., Discoveries in the ruins of Nineveh and Babylon; with travels in Armenia, Kurdistan and the desert, London 1853, p. 350.

by Babette Schnitzlein

A number of Akkadian written sources mention the term ṣalmu. Akkadian is a Semitic language which is known to have been used from the middle of the third millennium B. C. until the first century of the first millennium A.D. Akkadian was written in a script called cuneiform. Taking a closer look at the texts, in which the term ṣalmu appears, it becomes evident that ṣalmu is not a term for a specific medium, for example a statue or painting. It was used for all kind of images like statues, reliefs, stelae, figurines out of clay, depictions on seals and metal bands. Weiterlesen

Un viaje desde la memoria interminable

By Linda Báez-Rubí

In this post, Linda Báez-Rubí explores the background to Warburg’s Mnemosyne Atlas and its relationship to psychology and astrology for Warburg, before presenting a possible reading of Panel 79.

Al momento de su fallecimiento, en octubre de 1929, el psico-historiador del arte y la cultura, Aby Warburg (1866-1929), se encontraba trabajando en un proyecto al que le había dedicado especial atención desde 1924: el Atlas de imágenes Mnemosine. La manera en que Warburg organizaba el rico material de imágenes sobre grandes tableros de fondo negro abría la posibilidad de relacionar diversos motivos figurativos entre ellas. El constante ejercicio experimental de cambiar, introducir y suprimir fotografías que mandaba hacer sobre la producción cultural humana, desde pintura, dibujo, escultura, cerámica, numismática hasta imágenes propagandísticas, lo llevó a realizar distintas series que se albergan actualmente en el Archivo del Instituto Warburg en Londres.

De este modo, Warburg, registraba visualmente la historia de la vida de las imágenes en su recorrido tanto geográfico-temporal como en sus vehículos de transporte. La intención del erudito hamburgués de ilustrar dicho proceso, no se reducía meramente a la presentación de material icónico, sino que también tenía pensado acompañarlo con reflexiones teóricas que ofrecieran una explicación sobre la necesidad humana de crear y expresarse mediante las imágenes heredadas por la memoria. Sin embargo, varios de estos textos no se escribieron o quedaron esbozados en fragmentos.


The first English Art History PhD

Image from the autobiography of George N. Kates, 1989, Oxford University Press.

Oxford students, 1930 – the year of the first PhD in Art History awarded in England.

It is well known that, for a long time, Art History didn’t have it easy in Britain. After all, this is the country where the first Secretary of State for Culture (a position that was established only in 1992) joked that he was now head of the “ministry of fun.” The first chair in Art History was thus only established in 1955 at the university of Oxford. Only since then has it been possible to receive a proper university education in the subject – or so the story goes. When Francis Haskell gave a “Thank offering to Britain” lecture on 22 November 1988, he apparently felt uneasy. His homeland, Haskell said, had after all absolutely no merits in the proliferation of art historical research. “Any English art historian of my generation is bound to feel even more embarrassed than flattered to be asked to give the ‘Thank you to Britain’ lecture.” His lecture on “The Growth of British Art History and its Debts to Europe” (Proceedings of the British Academy LXXIV (1988)) thus emphasised first and foremost the latter part: That art history as an academic discipline was a complete import from Europe, transplanted to the British Isles. That the said first chair at Oxford was held by Edgar Wind, a German émigré, supports this argument. Haskell consequently dedicated his lecture not to England, but to the Warburg Institute, as the driving force, or so he argued, behind the establishment of Art History in Britain. Weiterlesen