Exhibition opening: ‘Bilder auf Wanderschaft. Das Warburg Institute und eine britische Kunstgeschichte’

An exhibition organised by the research network A Vision for Europe: Academic Action and Responsibility in Times of Crises and the Zentralinstitut für Kunstgeschichte, Munich.

30 May – 26 June 2019
Monday-Friday, 9:00 – 20:00
Admission free

Opening: 29 May 2019, 18:15 – 20:00

Zentralinstitut für Kunstgeschichte
Katharina-von-Bora-Straße 10
80333 Munich


A workshop organised by the international research project “Bilderfahrzeuge. Aby Warburg’s Legacy and the Future of Iconology”.

17th – 18th June 2019

The Warburg Institute

By addressing images and vessels with regard to their qualities as carriers and containers, this workshop sets out to think past conventional oppositions of visuality and materiality. Through a series of conversations based on readings and case studies, it seeks to open up new transdisciplinary and transcultural perspectives for interrogating the very notions of ‘image’, ‘thing’ and ‘object’ in space, time, cultures and media.

Edgar Wind: ‘Hume and the Heroic Self-Portrait’

Often understood as a mode of Geistesgeschichte, Wind’s lecture was a pioneering effort to think about canonical works of 18th century British art through the larger philosophical discourse of their time, most notably through the debates aroused by the skeptical arguments of David Hume concerning human nature. How might paintings, Wind asked, have been involved in the period’s questioning and championing of human reason as a trustworthy cognitive capacity that purportedly elevates man above other animals?

The Rest is Not History

It takes a heart of stone to not be shaken by The Rest, Ai Weiwei’s second documentary about the ongoing refugee crisis. Premiered at the Copenhagen International Documentary Festival on 22 March 2019, this sobering cri-de-coeur received a standing ovation twice. We are here entrusted with a humbling dialogue with individuals we call refugees. As their own words and visages, silences and tears strike home their ordeal, salient is the cruelty – and absurdity – of not the war they escaped, but the inhumanity thrown in their face.

Call for Applications: Geographies of Cultural memory: a one-day workshop with Carlo Severi, 8th June 2019

The Warburg Institute and the Bilderfahrzeuge Project are pleased to announce a day-long workshop with renowned anthropologist Carlo Severi (Ecole de Hautes Etudes en Sciences Sociales, LAS/Collège de France). Professor Severi will give a public lecture at the Warburg at 7:00 p.m. on Friday, June 7th. The next day, Saturday, June 8th from 11:00 to 17:00, he will lead a closed-session workshop. We invite PhD students, post-docs, and early career scholars to participate.

„Vous faites comme vous voulez“: Der Künstler Issa Samb aus Senegal in einer Ausstellung von Antje Majewski im Hamburger Bahnhof Berlin

Seit der Ausstellung „Hello World. Revision einer Sammlung“ im Jahr 2018 hat der Hamburger Bahnhof Berlin es zu seinem Ziel erklärt, sich verstärkt mit einer „globalisierten Perspektive“ in zeitgenössischer Kunst und Kunstgeschichtsschreibung auseinanderzusetzen. Bis zum 12. Mai 2019 ist dort nun eine Ausstellung zu sehen, die sich mit Fragen des Verhältnisses von Menschen zu ihren Lebensräumen, zu nicht-menschlichen Lebewesen und Objekten in unterschiedlichen Regionen der Welt befasst. Ihr Titel stellt weniger eine Frage, als dass er eine Anleitung verspricht: „How to talk with birds, trees, fish, shells, snakes, bulls and lions“.

A Vision for Europe: Academic Action and Responsibility in Times of Crises

The international research project “Bilderfahrzeuge. Aby Warburg’s Legacy and the Future of Iconology” is pleased to announce its partnership with the research network A Vision for Europe: Academic Action and Responsibility in Times of Crises, funded by the Arts and Humanities Research Council (AHRC). The network brings together The Warburg Institute, Central Saint Martins UAL, and the Bilderfahrzeuge project to examine the scholarly use of image-led practices to comment and shape political reality through a unique engagement with the material archive of a photographic exhibition mounted in 1941 by the Warburg Institute in London.

John Trumbull’s ‘The Declaration of Independence’

John Trumbull’s The Declaration of Independence is an iconic image of American history and a rich example of a Bilderfahrzeug functioning in the context of nationhood. On the one hand, the image’s multiple instantiations are key to its wide transmission, existing as it does as three paintings by Trumbull and a number of especially mobile 19th century engravings after those paintings, to say nothing of its more recent dissemination by more modern means.

Barbara Wittmann: ‘Bedeutungsvolle Kritzeleien. Eine Kultur- und Wissensgeschichte der Kinderzeichung, 1500-1950’

There is no dearth of scholarship on modern artists’ reception and appropriation of children’s drawings, but Wittmann’s book tells a decidedly different – and more ambitious – story. Employing an interdisciplinary approach informed as much by the history of science as by the history of art, the author sets her sights on the operative function of the children’s drawing within the discourses, practices and institutions that shaped modern childhood as such. By addressing a wide range of social and scientific contexts – from experimental psychology to progressive education, from intelligence testing to psychoanalysis – the author reveals the diverse and often contradictory ways in which these fields implemented the children’s drawing both as an object and an instrument of knowledge.

Meaningful Forgeries: Some Remarks on ‘Executioner’s Masks’

Two ‘executioner’s masks’ housed in the collection of the pharmaceutical entrepreneur and philanthropist Henry Solomon Wellcome (1853–1936) have recently been exposed as historiographical forgeries manufactured by the nineteenth-century imaginary. Previously these objects were believed to have covered the face of the executioner during capital punishment, either to disguise his identity or to protect him from the ‘evil eye’ of the dead convict. In an article for History Today, Alison Kinney argued that such notions do not match with early modern written and visual documentation but rather with Victorian ‘gothic’ sensibilities. In fact, the masks seem to have complied with a very modern penal reform agenda that removed executions from the public. Still today in the United States contemporary executioners wear ‘reinvented’ covers to avoid identification.

Carlo Severi: ‘The Universe of the Arts of Memory’

“The Universe of the Arts of Memory” (Chapter Three), pp. 61-97, in: Capturing Imagination. A Proposal for an Anthropology of Thought by Carlo Severi. The comprehensive aim of this essay is to further develop the anthropology of memory which the author earlier proposed in his work The Chimera Principle: An Anthropology of Memory and Imagination (French ed. 2007; English ed. 2015). The latter opens with a discussion on Aby Warburg’s work on the biology of images in regard to Hopi pictograms.

Lecture series: Ringvorlesung ‘BildFahrZeug: Zur Zirkulation von Artefakten’ at the University of Hamburg, April – July 2019.

The International Research Project Bilderfahrzeuge. Aby Warburg’s Legacy and the Future of Iconology is pleased to announce a new Lecture series (Ringvorlesung), organised by Leena Craseman, Uwe Fleckner and Yannis Hadjinicolaou at the Kunstgeschichtliches Seminar at the University of Hamburg.

‘Reframing Chinese Objects: Collecting and Displaying in Europe and the Islamic World, ca. 1400-1800’. Workshop at the Universität Heidelberg, 7-8 December 2018.

An international workshop entitled “Reframing Chinese Objects: Collecting and Displaying in Europe and the Islamic World, ca. 1400-1800” was held at the Karl Jaspers Centre for Advanced Transcultural Studies, Heidelberg, on the 7th and 8th of December 2018. The workshop, conducted as part of the “Objects of Wonder” project and funded by the Excellence Initiative II of the Heidelberg University, investigated some of the remarkable ways in which Chinese objects were reframed and re-contextualized through practices of collection and display across the Islamic world and Early Modern Europe.