March 30, 2013

Warburg, Benjamin and the Archives of Outsider Art

Abraham Moritz Warburg, known as Aby Warburg (June 13, 1866 – October 26, 1929), was a German art historian and cultural theorist who founded a private Library for Cultural Studies, the Kulturwissenschaftliche Bibliothek Warburg, later Warburg Institute. At the heart of his research was the legacy of the Classical World, and the transmission of classical representation, in the most varied areas of western culture through to the Renaissance.

He suffered from depression and symptoms of schizophrenia, and was hospitalized in Ludwig Binswanger's neurological clinic in Kreuzlingen, Switzerland in 1921. After his release from Binswanger's clinic in 1924, Warburg held occasional lectures and seminars between 1925 and 1929, which took place in a private circle or in his library.
An excerpt from the article, "Jewish scholar challenged tradition with creation of unique library," by Michael Marek:
A library established by Hamburg-born Jewish art historian Aby M. Warburg narrowly escaped destruction by the Nazis to become one of the most significant book collections in Europe to this day. 

He was "a Jew by birth, a Florentine in spirit, and a Hamburger at heart." That's how art historian Aby Warburg saw himself in his own words. One of his most outstanding achievements was the founding of the Warburg Cultural Studies Library, which was officially opened in 1926.
Video Title: Warburg, Benjamin and the Archives of Outsider Art. YouTube Video Description - [Channel: SchAdvStudy. Uploaded on June 29, 2012]:
15-06-12 The Warburg Institute

Howard Caygill

Warburg, Benjamin and Kulturwissenschaft Conference: "Warburg, Benjamin and the Archives of Outsider Art"

In continental Europe the intellectual legacy of Aby Warburg is currently a major topic of debate. Several eminent German art historians have announced that the completion of the edition of Warburg's writings is now a national priority. As the holder of Warburg's papers the Warburg Institute is actively involved in editing Warburg's writings. Walter Benjamin was almost a generation younger, but his legacy, in contrast, has been much more widely discussed. The comparative cultural historical method Warburg and Benjamin introduced independently offers ample ground for comparison, as scholars have shown in recent years. By looking at historical periods with a similar transitional character, Warburg and Benjamin developed radically new ways of perceiving and presenting the historical changes they observed. Above all they were both interested in human psychology as a constitutional factor for the phenomenon called 'culture'. The terminology they developed through intuition is based on similar ideas, and has indeed become part of the language of the discipline of cultural history.

The aim of this conference to explore the parallels between two eminent theoretical thinkers and to inspire a new attention to Warburg's writings in the UK.