Aby Warburg and his Bilderatlas (1)

I was very pleased to have been asked to write about why the publication of Aby Warburg’s Bilderatlas is, for me at least, the big publishing event of the year (see below). Warburg’s ideas and beliefs about the transmigration of images from antiquity across cultures preoccupied him in his last two frenetic years after the opening of the Kulturwissenschaftliche Bibliothek Warburg had opened next door to his house, mounting images on forty screen ranged round the elliptical main room of the library. Ernst Gombrich was hired in 1936 to oversee its publication, but thought the task impossible. So it is wonderful that it is now freely available, as well as being the subject of two recent exhibitions in Berlin which I had planned to visit in March, but like so much else in this year have only visited online, but of which the book is a physical memorial, available for future study.



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