This special collection takes its inspiration from the Bilderatlas Mnemosyne, a monumental project of the art historian and cultural theorist Aby Warburg (1866–1929). The Bilderatlas was Warburg’s attempt to map the afterlives of images, specifically exploring how tropes from the Ancient Western canon reappeared and were revivified in the art and thought of later times and places. By the time of Warburg’s death, the Bilderatlas comprised 63 wooden panels, on which were pinned, arranged, and re-arranged groups of black and white photographs depicting various art historical and cosmographic subjects: early modern maps, classical sculpture, medieval manuscript pages, paintings, coins, and clippings from contemporary newspapers and magazines. By juxtaposing and sequencing these images, Warburg was able to illuminate a new, broad historical view of recurrent visual culture, images he dubbed as having bewegtes leben: “life in motion”, a constantly re-animated existence.

Contributors to this special collection were invited to consider, with the same breadth as Warburg’s Bilderatlas, the use and reuse of images in art and art history, from antiquity to the present day. For despite his use of cartographic terminology, Warburg also wanted to transform the notion of the ‘atlas’ from a scientific or navigational document into a more dynamic Denkraum, or “thought space”, where metonymic and intuitive logic could play out, supported by rigorous scholarship and knowledge.

Image: La galerie de l’hôtel de la rue Pierre-Charron, anonymous photograph in Samuel Rocheblave, Un grand collectionneur Alsacien, Jean Dollfus, 1823 à 1911 (public domain)

Edited by: Katie Faulkner (Courtauld Institute of Art) and Jack Hartnell (University of East Anglia)


Cultural Constellations:
Cultural Constellations:

Emilie Oléron Evans, Susanne Müller and Costanza Giannaccini

2017-03-20 Volume 3 • Issue 1 • 2017 • 7

Also a part of:

Special Collection: Mnemosyne


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Special Collections