Writing with Pictures: Reconsidering Aby Warburg’s ‘Bilderatlas’ in the Context of Architectural Scholarship and Education (AIARG Conference, 30–31 January 2015)

Conference – Published 31st Jan 15

Over the past decade, a renewed interest in the work of art historian Aby Warburg (1866–1929) has given rise to powerful critiques of prevalent methodologies and conceptions of the image in art history (Michaud 2004; Didi-Huberman 2011) and cultural theory (Weigel 2013). In particular Warburg’s pictorial ‘atlas’, the Bilderatlas Mnemosyne (1927–29), is now seen as a groundbreaking work of art-historical scholarship that reconfigures the historian’s relationship to images based on a broad range of sources and media, including photographic reproductions of works of art, advertisements and newspaper clippings. This chapter revisits the Bilderatlas to explore in greater detail Warburg’s interest in architecture, specifically Leon Battista Alberti’s Tempio Malatestiano (c.1453) in Rimini, which is the subject of two studies conducted entirely on the basis of pictures and their juxtaposition. In so doing, this chapter seeks to understand the Bilderatlas as a form of ‘writing with pictures’ that can be applied in the context of architectural history and education. This practical application is what I call the architectural collage, i.e. a visual assemblage of architectural ideas and references, for which online search engines like Google are proposed as a tool assisting in the collection of image-related material.


Keywords: Writing, Image, Aby Warburg, Google, Architecture

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