The Schmooze

The Madness of Cultural Historian Aby Warburg

The creative legacy of the Hamburg-born Jewish cultural historian Aby Warburg, born Abraham Moritz Warburg to a family of German bankers, still thrives. When London’s Warburg Library was threatened last fall with dispersal, a general outcry was heard to preserve the documentation first gathered by Warburg, who died in 1929, and later augmented by his friends Fritz Saxl and Gertrud Bing, who heroically transferred the collection from Nazi Germany to England in 1933.

Warburg’s intellectual accomplishments, his renewal of classical themes in art, and his lifelong struggle against anti-Semitism have all been studied by recent scholars. Yet one of the most salient aspects of Warburg’s life, the devastating mental illness which he suffered after World War I, requiring hospitalization from 1921-1924, was little known.

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The Madness of Cultural Historian Aby Warburg

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