Configuring the Baroque: Warburg and Benjamin

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Abstract

This essay compares Aby Warburg’s and Walter Benjamin’s exemplary versions of the Baroque. It examines Warburg’s ambivalent, episodic, but demonstrably crucial attempts to make sense of the Baroque style in light of his cardinal concepts of the pathos formula and the ‘prudence’ that he prizes in the artist and ‘cultural scientist’. It thus also considers the agency and ‘anachronism’ of the Baroque artwork. Then the essay turns to how Benjamin’s Origin of the German Tragic Drama appropriates Warburg’s and the Warburg Circle’s writings to help construct an allegorical, but similarly recursive Baroque. Warburg and Benjamin, it contends, are both keen to redeem the Baroque; but Benjamin does so by plumbing the very daemonic depths that Warburg prudently eschews.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)142-165
Number of pages24
JournalCulture, Theory and Critique
Volume57
Issue number2
DOIs
StatePublished - May 3 2016
Externally publishedYes

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ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Cultural Studies
  • Sociology and Political Science

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