Allison Stielau: The Case of the Case for Early Modern Objects.

On 17th and 18th June 2019 the first workshop of the second round of the research group Bilderfahrzeuge took place at the Warburg Institute, London. Under the title “Image/Vessel” it dealt with the methodological and theoretical relation of two important topics of art historical research: image theory and thing theory. Based on the first text of the readings section of the workshop, The Case of the Case for Early Modern Objects and Images by Allison Stielau, we began with an examination of the relation between container and contained. In light of this essay and the ensuing discussion, I would like to present some central questions and reflections of the workshop.

Temporal Lesions: Warburg Draws the Brain

In the spring of 1892, the young Aby Warburg impetuously abandoned what he saw as the “aestheticizing” excesses of art history to pursue a career in the hard science of medicine. In the end, his medical studies at the Friedrich-Wilhelms-Universität in Berlin lasted only a single semester; yet as would only become clear much later, this phase of study left a deep impression upon his thinking. Following the lectures of the psychologist Hermann Ebbinghaus – a pioneer of the experimental study of recollection and forgetting – Warburg was initiated into the state of the art of contemporary neurological research, including the problem of cerebral localization.

Museale Sehgewohnheiten irritieren? Anmerkungen zu zwei aktuellen Basler Ausstellungen.

Wie realisieren Museen heute ihre Ausstellungen, welche Displays, Formate der Vermittlung und textuellen Rahmungen wählen sie, um die Objekte und damit verbundenen Diskurse einem öffentlichen Publikum nahe zu bringen? Diese allgemeine aber ebenso grundlegende Frage stellt sich seitdem Objekte in privaten oder öffentlichen Institutionen präsentiert werden, unterliegt aber mehr denn je der Notwendigkeit einer umfassenden Reflektion – zumal in Zeiten einer kritischen Neuordnung der Institution Museum.

Marc Bloch: “Réflections d’un historien sur les fausses nouvelles de la guerre”

“Items of false news, in all the multiplicity of their forms – simple gossip, deceptions, legends – have filled the life of humanity. How are they born? From what elements do they take shape? How do they propagate themselves, gaining strength as they pass from mouth to mouth or writing to writing?” – In 1921, three years after the end of the First World War, the historian Marc Bloch posed these questions in his essay Reflections of an Historian on the False News of the War.

Qal’At Al Bahrain

Qal’At Al Bahrain is one of the most ancient places in the Gulf. The city’s beginnings date back to 2200 BC and it remained active up until the seventeenth century, when the site gradually started to lose in importance. It is a UNESCO world heritage site since 2005. The site is surrounded by palm groves, though the vicinity to the skyline of Manama (Bahrain’s capital) also provides a remarkable visual backdrop. Its strategic position, more or less in the middle of the Arabian Gulf, was quite important through the ages as a kind of economic trade hub. This becomes clear by visiting the site. In the context of the Bilderfahrzeuge project, those trade exchanges on the island through the centuries were intercultural interactions where the question of movement was a crucial one at the level of language and, most of all, at the level of the artefacts that were exchanged in the harbour or even remained there, no matter how low or high their value was.

‘Migrants: art, artists, materials and ideas crossing borders’

Conference organised by Spike Bucklow, Victoria Sutcliffe and Lucy Wrapson, Hamilton Kerr Institute, University of Cambridge. Held at Murray Edwards College, Cambridge, 15-16 November 2018.

This recent conference had an obvious political dimension as it encouraged the discussion of omnipresent international exchanges in the practice and reception of art as part of a phenomenon that presently troubles and polarizes our societies. In its extreme connotations, the term ‘migrants’ brings to mind images of uprooted individuals facing mortal danger as they try to escape from war, poverty and social injustice. The term also polarizes opinions as it evokes associations as diverse as peaceful self-fulfilment and cosmopolitanism, exciting cultural exchange, and ideas of flexible workforces moving across continents to satisfy the demands of global companies on the one side and fears of imported crime, a drop in living standards, loss of jobs and national identity on the other.

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“.