ABY Warburg's approach to aesthetics, compiled in the 1920s, is itself art.

For most of us, it's natural to look at many pictures at the same time. We do it every day via Internet searches and digital pinup boards - even refrigerator doors have become ad hoc photo albums.

But viewing fine art pictures in this nonlinear way, with no accompanying text and outside a museum, was radical 100 years ago. This is partly what makes Aby Warburg's ''Bilderatlas Mnemosyne'' [''Mnemosyne Atlas''], an encyclopedic image collection almost 1,000 photographs, so significant.

Warburg, a German art historian and cultural theorist, worked on the atlas from 1925 until his death in 1929.

To make it, he took reproductions of artworks and images of coins, celestial maps, calendars and genealogical tables, as well as advertisements, posters and postage stamps, and pinned them to wooden boards covered with black cloth.

He rearranged the panels in his library in Hamburg and used them in lectures, and wanted to publish the atlas as a book.

The work's titles comes from the Greek goddess of memory and the Mother of the Nine Muses [Zeus was the father].

Warburg was convinced that antiquity was a starting point for the study of artists of the Renaissance, but also that its themes had emotional meaning that resonated for modern times - particularly for a period of instability and change.

The one exhibition I was most excited to see this year was ''Aby Warburg : Bilder atlas Mnemososyne - The Original,'' which was open in March at the Haus der Kulturen der Welt contemporary arts center in Berlin organised  Roberto Ohrt and Axel Heil in collaboration with the Warburg Institute in London.

Consisting of 63 panels composed of the 971 original illustrations from the last documented version of the atlas, in October 1929, the display would have been presented as Warburg had intended - for the first time.

It has now been postponed until the fall because of the pandemic, but some of its images can be viewed on the center's website; in a new book devoted to the ''Mnemosyne Atlas,'' published by  Hatje Cantz; and on the Warburg's Institute's web page devoted to the atlas.

Warburg [1866-1929] was a curious character. ''Jew by blood, Hamburger at heart, Florentine in spirit,'' is how he described himself.

Born into a rich banking family in Hamburg, he complete his doctorate in 1892, writing on Sandro Botticell's paintings ''Birth of Venus'' and ''Primavera'' [''Spring''] from the 1480s.

In the 1890s, Warburg traveled through the American South-west and witnessed rituals of the Pueblo and Navajo people, which made a lasting impression - especially a dance in which Native Americans dressed as antelopes, and a Hopi rite using live snakes. 

Modern art was burgeoning at the time, but he continued to focus on art from the Italian Renaissance. He set up a library in 1909, and a research institute in 1926 with the help of the Viennese art historian Fritz Saxi, who created ''exhibitions'' with photographic reproductions of art during World War 1.

The institute moved to London in 1933 to flee the Nazis, and the library there still reflects Warburg's far-ranging and sometimes esoteric interests.

Sections are devoted to amulets, magic mirrors, medieval astrology and the Evil Eye. [Subjects not uncommon for European intellectuals questioning ''modern'' society in a state of upheaval]. 

The honor and serving of the latest global operational research on creative art and artists, continues. The World Students Society thanks author Martha Schwendener.


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