To mark the th birthday of Aby Warburg, the ZKM is exhibiting a complete reconstruction of his picture atlas in its original size. In December , Warburg started to compose a work in the form of a picture atlas named Mnemosyne. The Mnemosyne Atlas, October Panel A. Panel B. Panel C. Panel 1. Panel 2. Panel 3. Panel 4. Panel 5. Panel 6. Panel 7. Panel 8. Panel Panel

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Working with photographs was by no means a matter.

Online BilderAtlas Mnemosyne

Warburg stapled some 1, prints onto panels lined with black cloth. These were to be published in such a way that all the details of the illustrations remained visible. They help warurg gathering ideas and illustrating presentations while always remaining flexible.

He wanted to show how the motifs of antiquity, via the detour of the orient, survived into the Renaissance and beyond. To this end, he used reproductions of painting, graphics and sculpture and evidence from the applied arts such as carpets, genealogical tables, photographs and advertisements.

This illustrates as much the complexity of the material as the difficulty of capturing it in words. The compilation of pictures on the individual panels, on the other hand, can bridge centuries, if not millennia, cogently and without words. The present exhibition presents its last version in reconstructed form.


“Aby Warburg. Mnemosyne Bilderatlas” at ZKM Karlsruhe – BMIAA

In addition, the provenance of almost all the individual photographs is identified. They meet regularly at the 8. For the exhibition at the ZKM, all sixty-three of the panels were reconstructed in their original ,nemosyne, two with the original pictorial material.

This the first time that the research group has presented its work with and on the atlas for discussion in a broader context. Supplementary to this, thirteen artists, including Olaf Metzel, Paul McCarthy and Peter Weibel, were invited to create their own panels in the original format. They show how artistic work can function exactly like the visualisation of mnemodyne research.

This makes it interesting not only for art mnejosyne and visual studies, but also for artists. Gombrich observed in his biography of Warburg, that the Mnemosyne project could be brought to an end. And perhaps it is just the thought of this scholar, openly and insightfully presented here, that still fascinates and inspires today.


He relinquished his right as first-born to take over the bank to his younger brother, on the condition that the family would buy him every book he needed for the mnemosyme of his life. The condition was accepted. Warburg studied art history at the Universities of Bonn, Munich, Strasbourg and Florence, and took his doctorate with a dissertation on the painting of the Italian Renaissance and the mnmeosyne Sandro Botticelli.

Due to a mental illness, he spent several years in a Swiss clinic. He then began his last project, the Mnemosyne atlas, which because of his sudden death remained unfinished.

“Aby Warburg. Mnemosyne Bilderatlas” at ZKM Karlsruhe

Aby Warburg is regarded as the father of modern visual studies. His library, which at the time of his death comprised some 60, volumes, was relocated to London in and is today part of the University of London. Go directly to content Alt 1 Go directly to second-level navigation Alt 3 Go directly to first-level navigation Alt 2.