At first sight, classical architecture, with its continuous revivals and reworking of the forms of Greek and Roman building, would appear to offer a privileged field in which to apply Warburg's central notion of the survival of classical forms (Nachleben der Antike) and his view of art history's unfolding as a process of remembrance (or Mnemosyne). Yet Warburg himself did not write on architecture. The topic has also largely vanished from the pages of the Journal of the Warburg and Courtauld Institutes, though in the past the journal has been the venue for influential publications on classical architecture. By comparing two Warburg circle publications from 1949 — Fritz Saxl and Rudolf Wittkower's British Art and the Mediterranean World and Wittkower's Architectural Principles in the Age of Humanism — this article shows that architectural history of this kind, developed in the context of the Warburg Institute, is connected not only to Aby Warburg's ideas on Nachleben der Antike and Mnemosyne, but also to the organization and holdings of the Warburg Institute Library. Working in the Warburg Library gives architectural historians the intellectual space to think about architecture in terms of design issues, but moreover as an actor shaping society and culture. This article concludes that Warburg's thought offers important, and thus far hardly explored, starting points for new investigations of the built classical heritage.
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Caroline van Eck; THE WARBURG INSTITUTE AND ARCHITECTURAL HISTORY. Common Knowledge 1 January 2012; 18 (1): 134–148. doi: https://doi.org/10.1215/0961754X-1456935
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