previews

  • “Aby Warburg: Bilderatlas Mnemosyne—The Original”

    Haus der Kulturen der Welt (HKW)
    John-Foster-Dulles-Allee 10
    April 3–June 29, 2020

    Curated by Roberto Ohrt and Axel Heil

    Of all of the works produced by German art historian and Kulturwissenschaftler Aby Warburg, his Bilderatlas Mnemosyne is perhaps the most studied but least understood. Charting the journeys and detours of Western antiquity through disparate historical periods and geographical regions, the Bilderatlas demonstrates, in a single, unfolding expression, Warburg’s distinctive method for the study of art and cultural forms. Almost a century after he and his colleagues began compiling material for the project in 1924, a forthcoming exhibition at Haus der Kulturen der Welt will gather together nearly all 971 original images from the final, albeit unfinished, 1929 variation. The display will replay the novelty of navigating these images, collected and distributed across sixty-three reconstructed panels. Any mere representation of the atlas, however, risks unfaithfully arresting the life of Warburg’s ambitious endeavor. That said, if the institution’s recent programming is any indication, the organizers, who are working with the Warburg Institute in London, are alert to this danger.