From 1925 until his death in 1929 the Hamburg-based art and cultural scholar Aby Warburg worked on his Mnemosyne Atlas, a volume of plates that has, in the meanwhile, taken on mythical status in the study of modern art and visual studies. With this project, Warburg created a visual reference system that was far ahead of its time. In cooperation with the Warburg Institute, Roberto Ohrt and Axel Heil have now undertaken the task of finding all of the individual pictures from the atlas and displaying these reproductions of artworks from the Middle East, European antiquity, and the Renaissance in the same way that Warburg himself showed them, on panels hung with black fabric. This folio volume and the exhibition in Haus der Kulturen der Welt, Berlin succeed in restoring Warburg’s vanished legacy—something that researchers have long considered impossible. ABY WARBURG (1866–1929), scion of a Hamburg banking family, completed his doctorate in 1892 on the Italian Renaissance painter Sandro Botticelli. As a result, he comprehensively studied the interplay of myths, images and rites from different cultural contexts. This lead him to his main subject matter: the afterlife of antiquity in the Renaissance. With his attempt to break down the rigid boundaries of art history, Warburg is regarded as one of the fathers of modern pictorial science. The art historian ROBERTO OHRT (*1954) and the artist AXEL HEIL (*1965) have searched through the 400,000 individual pictures in the Photographic Collection at the Warburg Institute in London, looking for the images for the atlas. Their work is a comprehensive tribute to Aby Warburg’s pictorial world.

How artists, historians and theorists have diagrammed art’s lineages, from the Middle Ages to Fluxus

Genealogies of Art analyzes the visual representations of art history made by artists, critics, designers, theorists and poets alike, from the genealogical trees of the 12th through the 15th centuries and the Renaissance to more recent information graphics, including paintings, sketches, maps, plans, prints, drawings and diagrams.

The conceptual core of the book is the famed chart that Alfred H. Barr, first director of the Museum of Modern Art, composed for the cover of his landmark exhibition Cubism and Abstract Art in 1936, which sought to trace the origins of abstract art from 1890 to 1936. Around this paradigmatic chart is gathered a tremendous pageant of works by great polymaths and thinkers, including Guy Debord’s situationist maps; the Guerrilla Girls’ “Guerrillas in the Midst of History”; Athanasius Kircher’s baroque-era trees of knowledge; George Maciunas’ Fluxus diagrams; André Malraux’s Museum without Walls; Otto Neurath’s charts and isotypes; Ad Reinhardt’s collaged histories of art; Ward Shelley’s Who Invented the Avant-Garde?; Maurice Stein, Larry Miller and Marshall Henrichs’ Blueprint for Counter Education; Aby Warburg’s legendary Mnemosyne Atlas; and many others.

Across 450 pages, Genealogies of Art reproduces more than 500 images. In addition to these, Astrit Schmidt-Burkhardt contributes an essay titled “The Diagrammatic Shift,” following by Manuel Lima’s “Trees of Knowledge: The Diagrammatic Traditions of the Middle Ages and the Renaissance,” both of which contextualize the relevance of this form throughout history. Uwe Fleckner explores the use of diagrammatic visualization in curatorial and collecting activities, as in the cases of Carl Einstein or Aby Warburg; and the Picasso specialist Eugenio Carmona looks at Alfred H. Barr’s conception of Picasso’s work, in his text “Barr, Cubism and Picasso: Paradigm and ‘Anti-paradigm.'”

Cloud’68: Paper Voice pays homage to the European radical movements in architecture that flourished between the 1950s and 1970s producing a wide range of experimental expression. From the personal collection of the Chilean architect Smiljan Radic, a selection of 173 graphic pieces-lithographs, drawings, original etchings, and ephemera-will show the horizon of meaning of the diverse architectural approaches from those years: works by Constant, Guy Debord, Asger Jorn, HausRucker-Co, Archigram, Utopie, and Superstudio, among others, will meet in 33 panels that recall Aby Warburg’s ‘Mnemosyne Atlas.’ The publication is complemented by a ‘Wunderkammer’ of interview fragments by the critic and curator Hans Ulrich Obrist, who interviewed the protagonists of said architecture.

Rotes Schauspielhaus by Paolo Chiasera is really a transitory piece, and this book documents the various sequences and connects their contents. Chiasera begins with a public sculpture for Rosa-Luxemburg-Platz in Berlin-Mitte, that refers to the work of the architect Hans Poelzig, whose residential apartment blocks surround the square, and reconstructed the grandiose light columns from the demolished Großes Schauspielhaus in wood, cardboard and Styrofoam. This lied for three months among the trees on a small green plot and amidst the residential housing estate like a part of a temple ruin. In the course its existence, it decayed rapidly due to the influence of wind, weather and mere vandalism. From the remains, which he concentrated further with turpentine, he realised a relatively small picture, an iron-oxide version of a photograph of a bright, slightly cloudy sky. Chiasera, whose cosmos is strongly influenced by the thought of Aby Warburg, uses associative chains to stagger and concentrate meaning. His works are basically historical experiments and at the same time models and images of these experiments. Edited by Susanne Prinz, with an interview by Marc Le Blanc.

Atlas ¿Cómo llevar el mundo a cuestas? es el catálogo que acompañó a la exposición del mismo nombre que tuvo lugar en el Museo Nacional Centro de Arte Reina Sofía hasta el pasado 28 de marzo de 2011. Comisariada por el filósofo francés Georges Didi-Huberman, esta publicación recoge el legado histórico de Aby Warburg y su reconocido Bildertatlas. Didi Huberman traza con maestría las directrices para formalizar un nuevo atlas de imágenes que reconstruya la historia del arte. A través de un ensayo, que es un libro en sí, divido en tres capítulos el ensayista francés da las claves para comprender y profundizar en el discurso intelectual que le han llevado a crear esta exposición. El catálogo se completa con una selección de las obras que componen la muestra: de Paul Klee a Pedro G Romero; de Goya a Sol Lewitt, o de August Sander a Walker Evans, por citar algunos de los nombres que componen este atlas de la historia del arte.

En 1969, la capsule d’habitation, héritière des blocs-cuisines et contemporaine du premier alunissage de la capsule spatiale, matérialise un positionnement radical de l’habitat et des disciplines qui s’en occupent. Cet instant transdisciplinaire est formidablement incarné par la personne et le projet d’antidesign du designer milanais Joe Colombo. Peintre, puis architecte, il consacre sa vie professionnelle au design, qui souffre alors d’un manque total de reconnaissance. L’antidesign postule une nouvelle conception de l’habitat conjointement anthropocentré, standardisé et surtout dynamique. De surcroît, la capsule d’habitation, autosuffisante, semble flotter sans attache. Elle incarne l’autonomisation que recherche le design par rapport à l’architecture et aux Beaux-arts, et s’impose alors comme un, si ce n’est le modèle alternatif. Antidesign se concentre sur le passage de la fin des années 1960 au début des années 1970 et fonctionne ainsi comme une fiction anhistorique de la capsule d’habitation. Tout en explorant les ramifications dans le temps et l’espace, il interroge leur présence, mais surtout il s’ouvre sur la réappropriation contemporaine de la capsule. Le parti-pris d’Antidesign est de travailler sur la tension entre le texte et l’image, et de produire une véritable narration conduite de concert par la présence des visuels et de l’écrit. Ce parti-pris a été énoncé par l’historien d’art Aby Warburg, le père de l’iconologie critique qui à la fin du 19e siècle, initie avec son Mnémosyn, une histoire par les images et sans texte. Alexandra Midal se réapproprie modestement cette intention et y ajoute une narration simple qui sert de fil conducteur au lecteur. Elle s’oppose en cela aux additions d’images qui souhaiteraient se substituer au sens ainsi qu’à l’utilisation des images comme illustrations par les historiens. Au contraire, Antdesign se lit et se regarde simultanément.

The Ancient Greeks invented the art of memory (personified as Mnemosyne) 2,700 years ago. More than merely a mnemonic device useful to orators, they developed a technique for visually representing the world, which has since nurtured figurative arts and human knowledge.
Focusing on the theme of Mnemosyne, this essay thus reflects on the history of visual thought as revealed by the art of memory, from antiquity through Giordano Bruno, Leibniz and Walter Benjamin to Aby Warburg and digital landscapes. Today, digital culture and its interactive practices provide new possibilities for reinventing Bruno’s expanding universe. This enables us to access a wide range of information and knowledge and their interactions help us to develop collective intelligence. This work also shows how humans and their computer memories are producing new forms of knowledge using digital media combined with this ancient art; we see how a new type of visual thinking is emerging that creates new forms of knowledge and representations of the real.
Because of these new possibilities, the arts of memory have become meaningful as a way of apprehending the emergence of a digital thought process. The status of images has followed the same paradigm shift, so that we now consider the image not as the visible but as the visual; not as a world of shapes, but as a concretion of time, obligating, according to Georges Didi-Huberman, art history to turn back into an art of history, an art of memory.
François Boutonnet is a filmmaker and senior lecturer in film studies.