The Surviving Image

Phantoms of Time and Time of Phantoms: Aby Warburg's History of Art

By (author) Georges Didi-Huberman Translated by Harvey Mendelsohn

Paperback - £27.95

Publication date:

09 January 2018

Length of book:

432 pages


Penn State University Press

ISBN-13: 9780271072098

The Surviving Image, originally published in French in 2002, is the result of Georges Didi-Huberman’s extensive research into the life and work of foundational art historian Aby Warburg. Warburg envisioned an art history that engaged with anthropology, psychoanalysis, and philosophy in order to understand the “life” of images. Drawing on a wide range of Warburg’s unpublished letters and diaries, Didi-Huberman demonstrates unequivocally the complexity and importance of Warburg’s ideas and the ways in which his legacy was both distorted and diffused as art history became a “humanistic” discipline. The Surviving Image takes Warburg as its main subject but also addresses broader questions regarding art historians’ conceptions of time, memory, and symbols and the relationship between art and the rational and irrational forces of the psyche.

Faithfully and thoughtfully translated by Harvey Mendelsohn, this first English-language edition of Didi-Huberman’s masterful study of Warburg is a stirring and significant treatise on the philosophical nature of art history.

“A painstakingly detailed examination of Warburg’s writing, showing its connection with works of Friedrich Nietzsche, Jakob Burckhardt, and other notable pioneers of a psychologically oriented analysis of culture. Didi-Huberman offers insightful readings and criticism of such scholars as Ernst Cassirer, Erwin Panofsky, and Ernst Gombrich, accused of trafficking in ‘canons, ideal entities and transcendental notions,’ not to mention a more general denunciation of unnamed practitioners of a ‘positivist’ art history.”

—W. Cahn, Choice