Falckenberg Collection 21 August — 31 October 2021

With the exhibition Aby Warburg: Bilderatlas Mnemosyne: The Original, Aby Warburg’s famous pictorial atlas is returning to Hamburg, where Warburg was born, and will be on view in the Falckenberg Collection from 21 August to 31 October 2021. The Bilderatlas Mnemosyne remains one of the world’s most important art-historical research projects to this day.

After studying art history, the banker’s son Aby Warburg (1866–1929) rejected the then common categorization of art according to genres and periods and examined the interactions between pictures from different times and cultural contexts. He developed the Bilderatlas Mnemosyne in order to visualize the influences of antiquity on the Renaissance and beyond. Even as it was being compiled, the atlas developed into an instrument of insight. Warburg’s method set new standards: this new way of arranging canonical images blurred the boundaries between art history, philosophy, and anthropology and was foundational for today’s disciplines of visual and media studies.

The exhibition, curated by Axel Heil and Roberto Ohrt together with the Warburg Institute in London and produced by Haus der Kulturen der Welt in Berlin, almost completely reproduces the last documented version of the atlas from autumn 1929 with the original pictures: most of the 971 pictures (some of them in color) from the photographic collection of the Warburg Institute, with around 400,000 works in total, will be presented for the first time after Warburg’s death on 63 panels of his unfinished masterpiece.

In addition, 20 unpublished large-scale reproductions of panels that were previously only available in the archive of the Warburg Institute will be on view for the first time: These belong to the previous versions of the atlas, most of which were made in autumn 1928, and will be presented in large photographic prints made from the original black-and-white negatives. Even today, Aby Warburg's work on visual memory offers inspiration and alternative routes through a reality shaped by visual media. In this context, a selection of contemporary works from the Falckenberg Collection, made jointly with the curators, will be shown in dialogue with Warburg’s principles of comparative systems for organizing pictures.

The exhibition was curated by Axel Heil and Roberto Ohrt with the Warburg Institute in collaboration with the Falckenberg Collection at the Deichtorhallen Hamburg and produced by Haus der Kulturen der Welt in Berlin

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