Aby Warburg was perhaps the man who most influenced our vision of the history of art in this century. Through his studies he has shown the way that allows to find in visual arts the concretion of an entire civilization, with all its dark psychic tensions. Warburg himself, while developing his grandiose work, was periodically affected by nervous breakdowns, which forced him to prolonged stays in the clinic. In 1923, at the end of one of these stays, to demonstrate his recovery, he gave the patients and doctors of the nursing home in Kreuzlingen a “farewell speech” – the famous conference on the Snake Ritual, which later appeared in 1939 in the Warburg Institute’s “Journal” with a modest note that said it was pronounced for the first time “before a non-specialist audience”. In fact, that speech was both a confession and a testament. In a few pages, taking inspiration from his expedition to the Pueblo Indians, Warburg dates back to the origins of paganism and magic. And it illuminates the power – first of all psychic – of the images, their power to wound and heal, thus establishing a lightning circuit between the snake of the archaic ritual of the Pueblo and what Moses invited to raise in the desert.
Aby Warburg – Il rituale del serpente. Una relazione di viaggio
50 b/w illustrations