The essential panel-by-panel companion to Aby Warburg’s epic atlas
Accompanying the first ever English-language publication of legendary German art historian Aby Warburg’s (1866-1929) Bilderatlas Mnemosyne, this commentary volume provides an explication of each of the panels constituting Warburg’s modernist masterpiece. The Bilderatlas Mnemosyne was begun in 1925 and ended with Warburg’s death in 1929. He created it as a series of 63 large themed panels, each featuring a constellation of images–postcards, maps, adverts, reproductions of artworks–that trace the migration of symbols from antiquity to the present. Warburg’s goal was to show how certain gestures and icons repeated themselves across history, constituting what he called a “pathos formula”–that is, an enduring emotional metaphor. Warburg had the panels photographed, conceiving of their ultimate incarnation as being in book form–but never completed the atlas.
Assembled over several years through a collaborative process, the texts in this volume analyze each of the panels (which the English edition of the Atlas itself painstakingly reconstructs from the archives of the Warburg Institute). The book is prefaced by an introduction and a general analysis of the whole structure of the Atlas.