Category: Blog

From the Archive II: Reading the Yates Family Archive

In the first half of this two-part blog about the Yates Family Archive I have introduced the parents of Frances Yates (b. 1899), her three siblings Hannah (b. 1885), Ruby (b. 1887) and James (b. 1889) as well as the house in Claygate from where after the scholar’s death in 1981 the Family Archive, an adjunct to Yates’ working papers, had been transferred to the Warburg Institute. I shall now turn to the collection itself.

From the Archive I: Cataloguing the Yates Family Archive

In her “Autobiographical Fragments”, written in the year of her death, Frances Yates (1899-1981) refers to a photograph from her childhood. It relates to a period in 1912, when her family was briefly living on a farm in Ingleton in North-Yorkshire. The twelve-year old Frances had been told by her family to work through the books for the Junior Cambridge examination as to supplement her irregular teaching: “I think that this is why I was making an elaborate study of Macaulay’s ‘Lays of Ancient Rome,’ …. or passionately declaiming ‘Lars Porsena of Clusium By the nine gods he swore’ to the lamb in the field opposite. I have a snapshot of that lamb standing quite alone in the distance … and looking slightly worried.”

Das Bild im digitalen Raum: Ein Kommentar zu W.J.T. Mitchells ›ästhetischer Distanzierung‹

In einem Interview vom 02. Mai 2020 widmet sich der Kunsttheoretiker W.J.T. Mitchell der Frage, was passiert, wenn wir Kunst im Internet anschauen. Er stellt die Hypothese auf, dass der Transfer von Kunst und Ausstellungen in digitale Medien je in Abhängigkeit zum Werk auf die Rezeption keinen entscheidenden Einfluss nähme und zugleich eine ästhetische Distanzierung ermögliche, die dem heutigen Gebot des social distancing entspreche. Aber was heißt das genau?

Wellnow.wtf

Wellnow.wtf is a digital exhibition curated by Faith Holland, Lorna Mills, and Wade Wallerstein that opened on 4 April 2020, and featured a large international group of eighty net artists with moving-image related practises. The web address of the installation is the installation site of the show, run in turn by the same three curators doubling as “Silicon Valet”, a pun on both the sound of the phrase “Silicon Valley” and on the kind of Valley tech-optimism that haunted the first wave of net art in the early 2000’s-2010, against which this exhibition is constructed.

The deadly danger of globalization: On the political iconography of the corona virus

Guest contribution by Teng Yuning, Peking University/Universität Hamburg

On the 23rd of January this year, China announced the implementation of a lockdown strategy in Wuhan, a city with a population of 11 million people and the center of the corona virus outbreak. Very quickly, public life in the country came to a near standstill and panic began to spread throughout the population. It was hard to believe that quarantine measures on such an enormous scale could be possible in the modern world. A few days later, the German newsmagazine Der Spiegel featured a photograph on its cover showing a Chinese man wearing a red raincoat as a protective suit, a large and striking gas mask, goggles, earphones and holding a red Apple iPhone.

Krieg und Krise. Ein fataler Vergleich

Die „Vergleichskonjunktur“ in Zeiten der Pandemie ist unlängst durch Johannes Grave in den Blick genommen worden. Als eine der Besonderheiten des Diskurses beschreibt Grave die nur vermeintlich bestehende Widersprüchlichkeit der beständig erfolgenden Betonung einer Unvergleichbarkeit der Situation bei einer gleichzeitig exponentiell anwachsenden Zahl der tatsächlich angestellten Vergleiche. In dieser Dynamik findet sich, so Grave, die Unausgewogenheit zwischen „Informationsflut und Wissensmangel“ symptomatisch ausgedrückt. Von einer solchen ebenso zutreffenden wie allgemeinen Feststellung ausgehend können aus der Vielzahl der Vergleiche einzelne herausgegriffen werden. Auf ihre jeweilige Signifikanz hin betrachtet geben sie Tendenzen zu erkennen, die nicht unbedenklich sind. Ein Vergleich ist hier von besonderer Tragweite, und zwar der Vergleich der gegenwärtigen Krise mit dem Krieg.

Caricaturing Mill, Empirically

To read an individual’s inner character from their outward appearance is to indulge a deep-seated temptation that has perennially plagued the history of art. Often manifesting itself in drawings of typical expressions or personalities—to say nothing of its troubled connections to theories of race—the very act of visualizing an inner mind by way of outer forms quite easily gives way to another prevalent practice: caricature, the intentional distortion of a given person’s distinctive features for expressive effect.

Rosalind Krauss: The Optical Unconscious

Here is why I am addressing Chapter Six of Rosalind Krauss’ The Optical Unconscious, in which she considers the mid-career paintings made by the artist Cy Twombly: I am writing about Rosalind Krauss on Cy Twombly’s ‘chalkboard’ paintings as way of thinking about mark and repetition, eventually as applied to my new theoretical work on the English baroque. I am writing about Krauss on Twombly because I am trying to think about the boundaries between art criticism, personal emotion, and art history in new and productive ways, both for myself and for my work for the project. Finally, I am writing about Krauss on Twombly because I both disagree with her, and owe her the foundation on which I myself am able to mount a critique.

Synthesis of Text and Image: Sarnath Banerjee’s Graphic Fiction

Is it likely that contemporary Indian graphic novelists draw inspiration from medieval Indian artists who composed illustrated manuscripts? There is negligible research on the transference of Indo-Persian artistic practices in the works of modern and contemporary artists in India. One of the causes maybe the disadvantage concerning scholars familiar with Urdu and Persian languages, limiting access to the literary and art historical discourse in circulation, during the early twentieth century. Scholars researching modernism in the art of Muslim South Asia, however, have attempted to address the issue; but more studies are awaited.

Inspired by the East. How the Islamic world influenced Western Art

On October 10, 2019, the exhibition Inspired by the East opened at the British Museum, which, according to its title, seeks to demonstrate how the ‘Islamic world’ influenced Western art. Besides a large number of paintings from the late 19th century, a few historical maps as well as objects of arts and craft are shown. The title, however, misleads the visitor: It is not an exhibition dedicated to the influence of the East on the West, but rather a show of orientalist art that presents an imaginary Orient from the perspective of the colonial West.

Specters of the Primitive. A Review in Three Parts

Perhaps the true appeal of what was once called “primitive art” lay not in its exoticism but in its apparent lack of historicity. For many European artists, as Meyer Schapiro perceived in 1937, the art of indigenous peoples had accrued “the special prestige of the timeless and instinctive, on the level of spontaneous animal activity, self-contained, unreflective, private, without dates and signatures, without origins or consequences except in the emotions.” The singular modernity of the avant-garde depended, in other words, on the correspondingly derelict nonmodernity of the primitive.

„Ubuntu“ als Möglichkeitsraum politischen Handelns für das Zukünftige? Über Felwine Sarrs „Afrotopia“

Ein kompromissloses Manifest ist Felwine Sarr mit dem Buch „Afrotopia“ gelungen, das 2016 erschien und seit diesem Jahr in deutscher und demnächst in englischer Übersetzung vorliegt. Fragt man sich, welche Leserschaft der Autor anspricht und vermutet aufgrund des vom Titel alludierten Themenhorizonts es adressiere allein diejenigen, die sich mit den Zukünften Afrikas befassen wollen, sei man zwar nicht enttäuscht, aber doch aufgefordert einige längere Blicke hinein zu werfen.

Aby Warburg: “Italienische Kunst und internationale Astrologie im Palazzo Schifanoia in Ferrara” (1912/1922)

The different modes that are brought together in this image may be summarized as “movement” and “stillness”, “tamed” and “untamed”, a central dialectic in the handling of falcons. On the one side, a hunting party is depicted with hooded and hence calm falcons, on the other a restless rider on horseback (note his garments, fluttering in motion), whose falcon almost flies away from his fist and is about to launch itself at the beholders of the artwork. Falcon and image are transformed here into a mirror of princes by shaping the courtiers’ actions and habitus.