Running concurrently to the exhibition Aby Warburg: Bilderatlas Mnemosyne – The Original at the Haus der Kulturen der Welt (02/04–22/06/2020), the Gemäldegalerie will be showing artworks ranging from prehistory and early history through to the modern age that Warburg used as the basis for his encyclopaedic image collection. In a kind of three-dimensional restaging of the collection, works from 10 of the collections of the Staatliche Museen zu Berlin enter into a striking dialogue with Warburg’s magnum opus.

Aby Warburg (1866–1929) was one of the most important art historians of the late 19th and early 20th centuries, who tirelessly investigated the “afterlife” of classical motifs in post-Renaissance European culture. Warburg was convinced that antiquity represented not only a schematic model for the artists of the Renaissance, but also contained an archetypal, emotional meaning that crystallised in key motifs and central themes. Warburg’s final work was a gigantic compilation of almost 1,000 photographs in his library in Hamburg, called Bilderatlas Mnemosyne, which provided an overview of his studies of the previous decade, and at the same time sought to signal new directions in the study of images.

In an exhibition at the HKW opening in the spring of 2020, the Mnemosyne Atlas will be presented in its original layout for the first time since 1929. At the same time, the Staatliche Museen zu Berlin will pay tribute to this influential theorist of the image with a presentation of roughly 50 original artworks that were selected by Warburg for the Mnemosyne Atlas’s sections on the themes of cosmos and pathos.

The works from 10 of the collections of the Staatliche Museen zu Berlin – the antiquities collection of the Gipsformerei, the Kunstbibliothek, the Kunstgewerbemuseum, the Kupferstichkabinett, the Museum Europäischer Kulturen, the Münzkabinett, the Skulpturensammlung, the Vorderasiatisches Museum and the Gemäldegalerie, which features prominently with its masterpieces by van Eyck, Ghirlandaio, Botticelli, Rembrandt and Rubens – impressively display the wealth of the Berlin collections, illustrate the relationships between works and cultures across space and time, and at the same time shed light on the complex thought that underlies Aby Warburg’s magnum opus.