Aby Warburgbibliophile, scholar, library founderhas become known as one of the most original and brilliant art historians of this century. Born in 1866 as the eldest son of a leading family of bankers, he purportedly turned his birthright over to younger brother Max in favor of committing some of the family's vast financial resources to scholarship, assembling a library that later formed the nucleus of the Warburg Institute in London.
In 1932 Warburg's collected worksall of his essays published during his lifetime along with manuscript notes in his working copieswere published in German in two volumes. This new translation marks the first time these seminal volumes have been made available in their entirety in English.
As an art historian, Warburg looked beyond iconography to more psychological aspects of artistic creation: the conditions under which the art was practiced, its social and cultural contexts, and its conceivable historical meaning. In particular, he often contemplated the meaning of the reuse of antique motifs and the imitation of antique institutions in art, particularly during the Italian Renaissance. He eventually defined a unique parallel relationship: the contemporary Northern European's attraction to the Italian Renaissance was to him much like the fascination that antiquity held for painters and other artists during the Italian Renaissance.
Kurt W. Forster is the director of the Canadian Centre for Architecture in Montreal and was the founding director of the Getty Research Institute. David Britt has translated numerous catalogs and books, including Friedrich Gilly: Essays on Architecture, 1796-1799 and The Genius of Architecture: or, The Analogy of That Art with Our Sensations by Nicolas Le Camus de Mézières.
Series: Texts & Documents