The remarkable life and ground-breaking work of Aby Warburg are the focus of a new collaborative exhibition, 'Rooms with a View: Aby Warburg, Florence and the Laboratory of Images.' The exhibit, organised by Uffizi Galleries in collaboration with the Kunsthistorisches Institut in Florenz and the Warburg Institute, is now on display until December 10, 2023, at Florence's Uffizi Galleries.
Warburg’s transformative experiences in Florence trace back to 1888, when he took part in a seminar to make the case for the creation of a German Institute for Art History in Florence, led by August Schmarsow. It was in the Uffizi that Warburg first encountered Botticelli’s Birth of Venus, which became the subject of his doctoral dissertation and set the stage for his revolutionary work on the migration of images through time and space. Notably, Warburg's sojourns in the Florentine galleries also led him to meet his future wife, artist Mary Hertz.
'Rooms with a View' pays homage to these pivotal experiences, situating Warburg's seminal projects within the Uffizi's permanent collection for the first time, thereby allowing a unique dialogue between Warburg's work and the artworks that inspired him. The Florence exhibition incorporates Warburg's ideas into a broader artistic and historical conversation, including contributions from contemporary artists such as William Kentridge, Lebohang Kganye, Alexander Kluge, Małgorzata Mirga-Tas, Goshka Macuga and others.
Serving as a triumphant reconnection of Warburg's scholarship with its Florentine origins, the exhibition intricately maps out his intellectual evolution and its vital influence on scholars, curators and artists.
Nearly 100 years after the Institute he founded was exiled to London, Aby Warburg is finally experiencing a homecoming. In 2020-22 we were pleased to contribute to exhibitions on his projects in Germany, his native country. But Warburg’s heart was in Italy-and his soul, as he put it, in Florence. It is therefore a special thrill to bring Warburg back to the museum where he found his calling. Warburg’s encounter with the Uffizi changed the course not only of Warburg’s career, but of art history itself, and I hope that the new encounters proposed in this exhibition will breathe new life into the questions Warburg posed in the last decade of the 19th century.
Warburg Institute Director, Bill Sherman
The show also brings digital innovation through the KHI's Digital Humanities Lab's new app, Aby Warburg’s Florence, available on the Apple App Store and Google Play Store, which guides visitors through the streets of Florence, offering an interactive experience that connects the city to the Bilderatlas.
This exhibition not only celebrates Aby Warburg’s enduring influence but also serves as a testament to the enduring value of the Institute that carries his name and preserves his legacy. It anticipates the completion of the Warburg Renaissance project later this year: this £14.5m capital project is opening the Institute to new publics and partners and creating its first gallery for physical and digital exhibitions.