The Snake and the Lightning

Aby Warburg's American Journey

€ 38.00

Date of publication April 2023

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The Snake and the Lightning
Aby Warburg's American Journey

By Uwe Fleckner, translated by Kevin Cook


2023. 176 pp., 120 ills.


18.00 x 24.00 cm

ISBN 978-3-7757-5160-5

Aby Warburg in America: An Album

When Aby Warburg left for the United States in September 1895, it was not foreseeable that his search for the symbolic foundations of art would become one of the most fascinating events in the history of his field. Warburg’s American journey lasted only months, and his stay in the Pueblo communities only a few weeks, but in 1923 he presented his findings in the groundbreaking lecture on the ‘"Snake Ritual". Using selected photographs, ethnologic drawings, and numerous documents, this story and picture book details a journey of discovery. It traverses a vast continent of research, showing Warburg’s diverse interlocutors—from chiefs to missionaries—and especially his records of dances, ritual objects, and artworks full of symbolic representations. The documents are evidence of the emerging shift in Warburg’s scholarly thinking, which would eventually lead to the cross-border cultural comparative methodology for which he is now held in worldwide esteem.

ABY WARBURG (1866–1929) founded modern pictorial science with his work. His main theme was the study of the afterlife of antiquity in the Renaissance, which he recorded in his iconic pictorial atlas Mnemosyne. His American voyage is evidence of how early Warburg already directed his gaze beyond the Western cultural context to explore the interplay of myths, images, and rites.
UWE FLECKNER (*1961) is one of the acknowledged international experts on Warburg. Since 2004 he has been professor of art history at the University of Hamburg and a member of the board of directors of the Warburg House there. As co-editor of the collected works of Carl Einstein and Aby Warburg, he has produced numerous publications on the subject.

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