Yannis Hadjinicolaou


Dr Yannis Hadjinicolaou
Research Associate
Universität Hamburg
Kunstgeschichtliches Seminar
Heilwigstraße 116
20249 Hamburg
Email: hadjinicolaou@bilderfahrzeuge.org

Research project

Detail of Allegory of April, Francesco del Cossa, ca. 1468. Fresco, Palazzo Schifanoia, Ferrara, Wikicommons.

Kinetic Material Symbol: The Political Iconology of Falconry

The political Iconology of falconry as such has been neglected by art historians and cultural historians alike. As it is known from a contemporary source, Frederic II hired falconers from four different parts of the world to practice this art. This fact reveals how much the respective cultural techniques shape different images of falconry but also provides very concrete proof of Frederick’s universalism. Knowing how to handle the falcon was of crucial importance as an analogy of knowing how to rule the state.The falcon remains untamed and can surprisingly leave the falconer at any time. Similarly, the ruler had to learn from early on how to engage with unexpected situations and one of the pedagogical tools used was falconry.The interaction between nature and culture is clear in relation between falcon and falconer between the discrepancy of tamed and untamed.

The emerging falcon has a dynamis, that is related to the emerging images and their materiality, especially when the bird of prey becomes an image itself. It is the floating activity and intrinsic force of the animal, that constitutes a co-productive relation to humans without a sovereign. The falcon as actor and as material-symbol stands model for a critical ‚material iconology’ that understands basis (Matter) and superstructure (symbol) as horizontal field of a bestial ergon. 

The transfer of functions, motives and meanings, which are not fixed and are often contradictory, the (physical) movement of crafted objects, but also the falcons themselves or the instruments of falconry connected and still connect countries as well as continents. 

The crucial role of the Mediterranean world in transferring knowledge, images, practices, and the instruments of falconry from the Arab Peninsula and Asia to medieval and early modern Europe has to be highlighted. At the same time, it will be shown that certain pictorial traditions and media starting from Europe and the US reach the Arab Peninsula today.The centre of the image’s migration is not anymore situated only in the European antiquity but was a global tradition, that over the centuries received as feedback loop iconic impulses also from the West.


Yannis Hadjinicolaou studied Art History, South East Asian Art History, and History in Berlin and Amsterdam. From 2011 to 2014 he held junior research fellowships at the “Collegium for the Advanced Study of Picture Act and Embodiment” and the “Cluster of Excellence Image Knowledge Gestaltung. An Interdisciplinary Laboratory” (both at Humboldt University, Berlin). From July 2014 to August 2017 he was a postdoc research associate at the project “Symbolic Articulation. Language and Image between Action and Scheme” (Humboldt University), funded by the Volkswagen Stiftung.

In 2014 he defended his PhD thesis at the Freie Universität Berlin, entitled Denkende Körper – Formende Hände. Handeling in Kunst und unsttheorie der Rembrandtisten (published in 2016 by Walter de Gruyter). An English translation “Thinking Bodies — Shaping Hands. Handling in Art and Art Theory of the Rembrandts” is in progress and will be published by Brill in the series Netherlandish Art and Cultural History(2019). During the summer semesters of 2015 and 2016, he taught (lectureship) at the Institute of Art History of Hamburg University. During spring semester 2017 he taught as a lecturer at the Institute of Art History of Basel University, Switzerland. Since June 2017 he is leading (together with Joris van Gastel and Markus Rath) the network “Synagonism in the visual arts,” funded for three years by the German Research Foundation (DFG). He is an associate member of “Image Knowledge Gestaltung. An Interdisciplinary Laboratory.” From September 2017 to October 2018 he was Humanities Research Fellow at New York University in Abu Dhabi.

Publications (selection)

Books and edited volumes

Denkende Körper – Formende Hände. Handeling in Kunst und Kunsttheorie der Rembrandtisten, Berlin/Boston: De Gruyter, 2016. 

  • Reviews: Kunstchronik, 70, 6/2017, pp. 305-311 (Inke Beckmann), Historians of Netherlandish Art, Newsletter, 34/2, 11/2017, pp. 30-31 (Ulrike Kern). Renaissance Quarterly, 71, 2/2018, pp. 684-685 (Amy Golahny).

Formwerdung und Formentzug, together with Franz Engel, Berlin/Boston: De Gruyter, 2016.

Paragone als Mitstreit, together with Joris van Gastel und Markus Rath, Berlin: Akademie Verlag, 2014.

 Frederick Antal: Realismus, Klassizismus, Romantik, together with Nicos Hadjinicolaou, Handapparat (ed. by Pablo Schneider), Berlin/Zürich: Diaphanes, 2014.


“Ich zog mir einen Falken. Das ikonische Nachleben der Falknerei”, in: Pegasus. Berliner Beiträge zum Nachleben der Antike Heft 18/19 2018, pp. 163-193.

“”Die Neue Sachlichkeit Rembrandts”. Aby Warburg´s Claudius Civilis”, in: Journal of Art Historiography 19: Dez18 (19 Pages). 

“J. F. Willumsen and El Greco. Collecting, Theory and Practice”, in: Echo Room. Thorvaldsen, Willumsen, Jorn and Their Collections, Exhibition Catalogue, edited by Anne Gregersen, Ostfildern: Hatje Cantz, 2018, pp. 160-183. 

“Blotches as Symbolic Articulation”, in: Symbolic Articulation. Image, Word, and the Body between Action and Schema, edited by Sabine Marienberg, Berlin/Boston: De Gruyer, 2017, pp. 173-203.

“Macht wie die des Königs – Zur Politischen Ikonographie der Falknerei in der Frühen Neuzeit”, in: Hunting without Weapons. On the Pursuit of Images, edited by Maurice Saß, Berlin/Boston: De Gruyter, 2017, pp. 87-106.  

Synagonismin Dordrecht. Arent de Gelder´s Handeling and His Network of Fellow Artists”, in: Wallraf Richartz JahrbuchLXXVII (2016), pp. 221-236.

“El Greco von Nah und Fern. Die europäische Dimension eines Topos in der Frühen Neuzeit”, in: Formwerdung und Formentzug, ed. together with Franz Engel, Berlin/Boston: De Gruyter, 2016, pp. 77–101.

 “Die Aktualität der Kritischen Kunstgeschichte in Stephan von Huenes Blaue Bücher”, in: Kritische Berichte4 (2014), pp. 62–73.

“Blick durch zerstörte Dächer. Demetros Anastasatos´ konservative Ästhetik”, in: Zeitschrift für Ideengeschichte, Winter IV (2013), pp. 91–102.

“Das allumfassende Auge. Zur Bildsukzession bei Jacques de Gheyn II.,in: Et in imagine ego. Facetten von Bildakt und Verkörperung. Festgabe für Horst Bredekamp, ed. by Ulrike Feist and Markus Rath, Berlin: Akademie Verlag, 2012, pp. 93–116.

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