Journal Article

‘Keep Your Distance’

Sven Lütticken

in Oxford Art Journal

Volume 28, issue 1, pages 45-59
Published in print March 2005 | ISSN: 0142-6540
Published online March 2005 | e-ISSN: 1741-7287 | DOI:
‘Keep Your Distance’

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This article focuses on Aby Warburg's ideas on modern art within the context of his views on myth. While in the years around 1900 the German critic Meier-Graefe championed Impressionism and Post-Impressionism as an ‘art of the flat plane’ and an art of pure light and colour, Warburg looked for the old, the anachronistic, in modern art, without denying its modernity. Taking into account Warburg's analysis of the rituals of the Pueblo Indians he witnessed as a young man and the resultant reflections on magic, ritual, myth and modern science, I focus on Warburg's fragmentary writings on Arnold Böcklin and on Manet's Déjeuner sur l'herbe. It is here that Warburg saw an art that was modern precisely in its transformation of age-old mythical beings. Visual art, this anachronism, gains its force to a significant degree from its dialogue with its own past. An art of the pure present, focusing only on the moment, would have been absurd for Warburg; time is never singular and simple, but layered. Art should not deny its repressed side, from which it has sprung in the first place: myth.

Journal Article.  0 words. 

Subjects: Art Forms ; Art Styles ; Art Subjects and Themes ; History of Art ; Theory of Art

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