"La Rivista di Engramma (open access)" ISSN 1826-901X

211 | aprile 2024


A Presentation of: Edgar Wind. Art and Embodiment, Peter Lang, London 2024

edited by Jaynie Anderson, Bernardino Branca, Fabio Tononi. A presentation by Ianick Takaes


Fabio Tononi, Jaynie Anderson and Bernardino Branca, Introduction, 1-16

PART I Intellectual Formation, 17-18

Pablo Schneider, Edgar Wind: A Mind Naturalized in Antiquity, 19-46

Fabio Tononi, Aby Warburg and Edgar Wind on the Biology of Images: Empathy, Collective Memory and the Engram, 47-72

Giovanna Targia, On Details and Different Ways of Viewing Raphael: Edgar Wind and Heinrich Wölfflin, 73-100

Tullio Viola, Philosophy of Culture: Naturalistic or Transcendental? A Dialogue between Edgar Wind and Ernst Cassirer, 101-124

PART II The Interpretation of Works of Art, 125-126

Franz Engel, ‘Chaos Reduced to Cosmos’: Reconstructing Edgar Wind’s Interpretation of Dürer’s Melencolia I, 127-160

Bernard Buschendorf, Symbol, Polarity and Embodiment: The Composite Portrait in Aby Warburg and Edgar Wind, 161-186

Bernardino Branca, Edgar Wind: Metaphysics Embodied in Michelangelo’s Sistine Chapel Ceiling, 187-220

C.Oliver O’Donnel, A Crucial Experiment: An Historical Interpretation of Edgar Wind’s ‘Hume and the Heroic Portrait’, 221-246

Ianick Takaes de Oliveira, ‘That Magnificent Sense of Disproportion with the Absolute’: On Edgar Wind’s Critique of (Humourless) Modern Art, 247-272

PART III Career as Émigré Scholar and Public Intellectual, 273-274

Oswyn Murray, Edgar Wind and the Saving of the Warburg Institute, 275-298

Elizabeth Sears, Edgar Wind and the ‘Encyclopaedic Imagination’, 299-328

Ben Thomas, Circular Arguments: Edgar Wind at Chicago, 1942–1944, 329-352

Jaynie Anderson, Understanding Excessive Brevity: The Critical Reception of Edgar Wind’s Art and Anarchy, 353-384

What depths shall we now explore? A Presentation of Edgar Wind. Art and Embodiment

Ianick Takaes

At the launch of Edgar Wind: Art and Embodiment in Oxford on 16 April 2024, an MA student sitting to my left raised his hand and asked the essential question (after a long, laudatory preamble, for this is a young man who knows his manners, or, at least, knows them better than the one sitting to his right). And the gist of his question was: “So, what’s next?” That is, after we have covered Wind’s intellectual formation between Germany and the USA as well as his debts to the nineteenth-century greats; after we have debated endlessly how much he learned from his masters, those he knew personally, however briefly, and those he did not (yes, Ernst Cassirer, Aby Warburg, C.S. Peirce, and William James, to name but a few); after we have considered the tragedies and stimuli of a life like his, the transatlantic, diasporic iter that played a significant role in the offbeat character of his approach to, well, pretty much everything under the academic sun; and after we have dug through the quarries of rancor and resentment that are the letters between Wind and his contemporaries, especially his fellow Warburgians, to find that ore of art-historical excitement with which to reinvigorate our own – after all that, what is next?

It is hard to say. And harder still, writing for Engramma as part of its team, not to be a bit pro domo in presenting this new collected work on Wind (in which I figure as one of the authors, so perhaps I should say pro domibus). Not only does this journal figure prominently in the footnotes of many of the book chapters, but, according to one of the speakers at the book launch (who is also one of the authors who contributed an essay and also a former student of Wind at that now mythical Oxford of the 1960s), Oswyn Murray, Engramma is one of the few places where Warburgian thought is being put to good use, thus mining art historiography to tackle a variegated – I am half tempted to say “psychedelic”, for its editor-in-chief is, after all, an open-minded ellenista – range of issues well beyond the realms of border-patrolled art history. And while I can hardly imagine Wind gender-bending with David Bowie or rocking his head at a CCCP concert (to mention two editions in which Engramma was at its most outré), I am also dead sure that he would “get it”, so to speak. For he was a scholar who drove a decoy car for bootleggers in Prohibition-era New York, who could go back and forth from Plato’s Republic to Alfred Jarry’s Ubu Roi with two strokes of his pen, and who advised people never to write books in libraries, lest the result become “bookish” (a grave sin, in his mind, for thus the work would lose that electrifying edge, that life-enhancing sting that he valued so and that he felt modern art had all but lost). And if we are to trust another of his former students, Adrian Rifkin, Wind queered art history before queer art history was ever a thing. And Rifkin is usually right about stuff.

Of course, we all have our Winds. And the editors of this new book on him have done an excellent job of assembling the senior guard, the established scholars, and the young blood to coagulate a man rightfully described by David Freedberg in the blurb as “mercurial”. So, in its pages the reader will find the proto-neuroaesthete Wind, the post-Kantian Wind, the Renaissance Wind, the Enlightenment Wind, the encyclopedic Wind, the ostracized-scion-of-Warburg Wind, et al. Thus, by amassing, probing, and assessing all these personae, the book vindicates the life and work of an intellectual who for decades has suffered a damnatio memoriae, a defamatory campaign mostly waged by those crypto-positivists once denounced by Lorenzo Minio-Paluello as dream-deprived, eyes-wide-shut sleepers. But, lasciamo perdere these somnambulists, for what matters now that the flame has been rekindled is what to do with it.

That is, what uncharted territories shall we now explore? The answer, once again, may lie within the man. Wind was the vanguard of the militant wing of the Warburgian tradition, who conceived of iconography/-logy (or however we want to call this hermeneutical practice, which he himself preferred to keep sous rature) as a brass knuckle with which to punch Nazis in their theoretical faces. And we, his readers, should not do him the discourtesy of sanitizing him and his thoughts – or sacralizing a man known for sending sacred cows flying (as a BBC commentator once put it). To keep things profane, then, three words on his essentials. One, throughout his career, Wind kept on hammering home the Platonic point that art is not inherently beneficial, and that the dissemination of art is not necessarily something to be celebrated (to which we can extrapolate and say that not all talking about art is a good thing, either); “Art”, he wrote, “is an uncomfortable business”. Two, an interpreter of bygone things ought to live firmly in the now so as to welcome in his contemporary being past signals, thus taking part in the whole under investigation while also conditioning its transmission; for this purpose, Wind said, “one must be historically affected”, and thus fall from the ivory-tower myth of the pure-minded, hygienist intellectual. Three, beyond it all, what matters most is the state of humankind – which Wind found both interesting and wanting – and historians should not “safeguard their work from the tumults of the moment”. Wind wrote these last lines in the mid-1930s, as he watched from London the downfall of his native Germany. As we all know, that was a perilous moment, but it pales in comparison to the one we are living now, this decisive decade that will define global survivability for centuries to come.

In doing much to reassess Wind’s contributions to art and cultural history, Edgar Wind: Art and Embodiment is also a steppingstone to what comes next (to come back to the essential question). And if we are to take him truly seriously, then we should seriously consider what is coming our way by looking at the tradition – “the mass of past experience”, as he once defined it – that put us in this anthropogenic cul-de-sac in the first place. For Wind saw things clearly some ninety years ago, when he stated that scholarship should converge on one point: “the self-transformation of man who has become lord and victim of his own cognitions”. As the looming environmental collapse warns us, by lording over the biosphere, we have ended up by victimizing ourselves. And art, that dangerous art that Wind both revered and feared, has been an active partner in these developments. The time has come that we face up to this fact.

Well, to conclude, I invite you to delve into this new book, read or re-read Wind’s work, and decide for yourselves if you also want to become keepers of the flame. If so, ite, inflammate omnia (intellectually, that is, so as to help prevent its physical burning).


Fabio Tononi, Jaynie Anderson and Bernardino Branca

from: Edgar Wind. Art and Embodiment, edited by J. Anderson, B. Branca, F. Tononi, London 2024, 1-15.

This volume presents a collection of studies on the pioneering art historian and philosopher Edgar Wind (1900–1971), who is also remembered as the first professor of art history at the University of Oxford (For more on Wind’s intellectual biography, see Thomas 2015 and Gilbert 1984). Since the death of his widow, Margaret Wind, at the age of 91 in 2006, the Edgar Wind Archive has been accessible at the Bodleian Libraries at the University of Oxford. All authors have consulted it. The archive has contributed to a revival of interest in Wind’s work and to an understanding of his importance to art historiography. Our volume is the first collection of studies on this extraordinary art historian and philosopher to take full advantage of this resource.

To understand the work of an art historian, is it important to know the story of their life? In the case of Wind, the answer is a resounding yes. The aims of this book are to clarify Wind’s contribution to the theory of cultural memory (a concept introduced by Aby Warburg, see Gombrich 1970), to analyse his notion of embodiment, to reconsider his published and unpublished works on art history and aesthetic theory, and to explore his life’s trajectory.

In 1983, Jaynie Anderson edited and published the first posthumous volume of Wind’s collected essays, The Eloquence of Symbols: Studies in Humanist Art, reintroducing Wind to the scholarly world. The volume contains the first biographical memoir of Wind and the translations of his principal works, which cover topics from the Renaissance to the twentieth century. This book was reprinted three times in English, and was translated into Italian, Spanish and Japanese (L’eloquenza dei simboli, La elocuencia de los simbolosShinboru no shūjigaku). The Italian translation (L’eloquenza dei simboli) sold thousands of copies and is still in print. Additionally, the publication of Italian translations of some of Wind’s lesser-known works initiated a revival of scholarly interest in his work in Italy (Humanitas e ritratto eroico). During his lifetime, Wind collaborated with Roberto Calasso, an Italian publisher who created the publishing house Adelphi in Milan. Calasso had an affinity with Wind, so much so that he could be considered Wind’s pupil (Anderson 2022b).

In France, philosopher Pierre Hadot appreciated the philosophical relevance of Wind’s work, as demonstrated in Hadot’s essay Métaphysique et images: Entretien avec Pierre Hadot (Hadot 1992).

In 1986, Anderson edited and published a second volume of Wind’s collected essays, on English art of the eighteenth century: Hume and the Heroic Portrait: Studies in Eighteenth-Century Imagery (Hume and the Heroic Portrait). At the core of the volume is Wind’s first art-historical study, Humanitätsidee und heroisiertes Porträt in der englischen Kultur des 18. Jahrhunderts, first published in 1933 in England und die Antike (Humanitätsidee und heroisiertes Porträt). Wind wrote it while arguing for the Warburg Library to be relocated from Hamburg to London, his objective being to emphasize the importance of the Warburgian methodology for the study of English art. The first translation of this lengthy essay is titled Hume and the Heroic Portrait, and it continues to have a considerable influence on the study of English art.

1 | Margaret and Edgar Wind playing the piano at Smith College, Northampton, 1948. Bodleian Libraries, University of Oxford.

Edgar and Margaret Wind documented their lives meticulously. After her husband’s death, Margaret put substantial effort into organizing their archive. There is only one photograph of Edgar and Margaret Wind together; it depicts them at the piano in Northampton [Fig 1] and it is interesting psychologically. They had an extraordinary relationship that endured beyond death. The archive is the result of that relationship. One day, Margaret told Jaynie Anderson that she and Edgar were not able to have children, and so the archive was her child.

During the editing of The Eloquence of Symbols, Anderson became aware of this considerable resource and was shown parts of it; however, she was not granted access to personal materials. Later, Christa and Bernhard Buschendorf, Pascal Griener, Colin Harrison, Elizabeth Sears and Ben Thomas obtained access to documents related to works that they were editing. Margaret Wind was dedicated to creating a comprehensive archive; she realized that her husband was able to express his motivations and ideas more clearly in his private correspondence than in his formal publications. This new understanding helps to explain the recent rise in interest in Wind’s scholarship.

From 22 to 24 February 1996 at the Einstein Forum in Potsdam, Horst Bredekamp convened a conference on Edgar Wind, as part of his project on German art historians who had been forced to emigrate during the Nazi period. Margaret Wind supported many of the scholars and supplied them with archival materials. Some papers from that conference were collected into a volume that was published two years later, in 1998 (Bredekamp 1998). It contains research by international scholars, including Elizabeth Sears, whose contribution on Michelangelo’s painting of the Sistine Chapel ceiling is an earlier version of her introductory essay to the book The Religious Symbolism of Michelangelo: The Sistine Ceiling (2000). Margaret sponsored the posthumous publication of some of her husband’s unfinished works, such as those contained in Sears’ volume just mentioned.

Nevertheless, it was not until after Margaret Wind’s death that anyone was able to view the full range of archival materials. The first scholar to do so was Rebecca Zorach. Jon Whiteley, literary executor of the Wind estate, granted Zorach access when the archival materials were still in the Winds’ flat at 27 Belsyre Court in Oxford (Zorach 2007). Some of the archival materials were made available to scholars after they had arrived at the Bodleian Libraries in 2006, long before the cataloguing of the papers was undertaken in 2014 and 2015.

In 2009, Image, Act and Embodiment, a research group led by Bredekamp and John Michael Krois, was given access to the Oxford archive. This culminated in Franz Engel’s contribution to Bredekamp’s Festschrift, published in 2012 (Engel 2012). When the Edgar Wind Archive was opened to the public in 2015, younger scholars who had never met Wind benefited from these important sources, enabling research by Ianick Takaes de Oliveira, Pablo Schneider and others (see, for example: Takaes 2017 and Rampley 2017).

The most recent books on Wind are Ben Thomas’ Edgar Wind and Modern Art: In Defence of Marginal Anarchy (Thomas 2020), which focuses on Wind’s writings on modern art (Thomas 2021a), and Bernardino Branca’s Edgar Wind’s Raphael Papers (2020), which includes Wind’s full manuscript from 1950 on Raphael’s School of Athens (Branca 2020). Branca also wrote the only biography of Wind to date, Edgar Wind, filosofo delle immagini: La biografia intellettuale di un discepolo di Aby Warburg (Branca 2019). In German, books on Wind include Die allgemeine Kunstwissenschaft (1906–1943): Max Dessoir, Emil Utitz, August Schmarsow, Richard Hamann, Edgar Wind: Grundlagentexte (2021), edited by Bernadette Collenberg-Plotnikov (Collenberg-Plotnikov 2021), and Edgar Wind: Kunsthistoriker und Philosoph, edited by Bredekamp, Buschendorf, Freia Hartung and Krois (Bredekamp et al. 1998).

Until very recently, scholarly publications on Wind’s works have been sporadic (Naval 2021). This contrasts with the consistent scholarship on Wind’s contemporaries with similar cultural backgrounds, including Aby Warburg, Alois Riegl, Erwin Panofsky and Ernst Gombrich. There are various reasons for the sporadic nature of scholarly interest in Wind. Margaret Wind was a meticulous and protective custodian of her husband’s reputation and was slow to approve the republication of his works. Indeed, in some cases, such as The Feast of the Gods, she did not allow it at all. Also, she was often apprehensive about publishing her husband’s unpublished works, and generally approved such projects only after lengthy consultations with numerous scholars. Wind’s reputation was also problematic. Although he was recognized as a brilliant scholar, he had often quarrelled with the Warburg Institute, which he had always hoped to direct. In addition to Oswyn Murray’s account of Wind’s Oxford years, this volume includes the memorandum that Wind wrote to the vice-chancellor of the University of London in 1933, thus settling any doubts about the importance of Wind’s role in bringing the Warburg Library to London.

3 | Edgar Wind in his flat at 27 Belsyre Court, Oxford, 1970. Photograph by Michael Dudley. Bodleian Libraries, University of Oxford, courtesy of Jonathon Dudley.

Some of the writings in this volume were first presented at the conference “Edgar Wind: Art and Embodiment”, organized by Ben Thomas and Bernardino Branca, and held at the Italian Cultural Institute of London on 28 and 29 October 2021. In connection with that conference, Bernardino Branca and Fabio Tononi founded “The Edgar Wind Journal”, a twice-yearly open-access publication on Wind’s life, published and unpublished works, and research interests (see Tononi, Branca 2021; and the presentation of the Journal in Engramma). It has now published four issues and is well established.

Wind belongs to the tradition of scholars who contributed to the study of cultural memory. Many chapters of this book look at the role of cultural memory in both the making and the perception of art. Building on the pioneering research of his mentor, Warburg, Wind developed the notion of ‘memory function’, which refers to the ‘traces’ that the representations of bodily movements and physical and facial expressions leave on the collective memory of a specific culture (Tononi 2022). Warburg’s notion of the ‘survival of antiquity’ in Renaissance imagery and culture is a constant theme in Wind’s research. Several authors in the present volume mention Warburg’s last great project, his never-completed Bilderatlas (picture atlas) Mnemosyne (the Greek goddess of memory), to which Wind contributed during his time at the KBW and which continues to inspire art historians today (Sears 2023; see also Branca 2021, 12-15). Wind’s study of the ‘embodiment’ of metaphysical ideas in the images and cultures of different epochs, ranging from classical antiquity to modern art, is also connected to the notion of the ‘survival of antiquity’ (for more on Wind’s notion of embodiment, see Tononi, Branca 2022).

Wind summarized the aim of his research in a letter sent in 1952 to the Guggenheim Foundation in New York:

For some twenty years my chief interest has been to explore the boundaries between the histories of art and of philosophy. My aim has been to demonstrate that in the production of some of the greatest works of art the intellect has not thwarted but aided the imagination; and I have tried to develop a method of interpreting pictures which shows how ideas are translated into images, and images sustained by ideas (Edgar Wind to Guggenheim Foundation, 15 April 1952, Bodleian, EWP, MS. Wind 216, folder 1). 

Wind has often been regarded as a disciple of Warburg. This book shows that Wind was a scholar in his own right, who not only developed Warburg’s ideas, but also opened new avenues of research and formulated new theories on the history of cultures, the history of imagery, and the philosophy of science.

This volume brings together three groups of scholars: the few who knew Wind personally (Oswyn Murray and Jaynie Anderson), those who worked closely with his wife and literary executrix Margaret Wind as she was organizing and cataloguing the Edgar Wind Archive (including Jaynie Anderson, Bernhard Buschendorf, Elizabeth Sears and Ben Thomas), and other scholars who are fascinated by many aspects of Wind’s works and ideas (including Bernardino Branca, Franz Engel, C. Oliver O’Donnell, Pablo Schneider, Ianick Takaes de Oliveira, Giovanna Targia, Fabio Tononi and Tullio Viola). Contributors consider Wind’s ideas relevant to contemporary and emerging research paradigms in the visual arts. Merging this multifaceted perspective with the unpublished sources in the Edgar Wind Archive is an ambitious task and a stimulating research model.

The chapters are organized thematically into three parts. Part I covers Wind’s early intellectual career – that is, the years from his doctoral thesis to his travels to the United States – which includes his dialogues with contemporaries such as Aby Warburg, Heinrich Wölfflin and Ernst Cassirer. Part II discusses Wind’s approach to the analysis of artworks, from Renaissance to modern art. Part III focuses on Wind’s career as émigré scholar and public intellectual, including his commitment to transferring the Warburg Library from Hamburg to London. The common thread that runs through all the chapters is cultural memory, a concept introduced by Warburg and largely applied by Wind in his studies.

Part I comprises contributions by Pablo Schneider, Fabio Tononi, Giovanna Targia and Tullio Viola, who analyse Wind’s early intellectual career. Schneider’s study focuses on Wind’s doctoral thesis, which he completed in 1922 and titled Ästhetischer und kunstwissenschaftlicher Gegenstand: Ein Beitrag zur Methodologie der Kunstgeschichte (The Object of Aesthetics and the Science of Art: A Contribution to the Methodology of Art History). Wind published only a short summary of his thesis, in 1924. Schneider’s contribution is the first English-language study on this subject. It analyses Wind’s evolving goal of establishing art history as an exact science. Schneider also considers Wind’s fruitful collaborations with his supervisor, Erwin Panofsky, and with the broader group surrounding the Kulturwissenschaftliche Bibliothek Warburg (KBW). This setting was conducive to Wind’s research in the fields of art history and philosophy, which he considered to be closely linked. Schneider’s chapter concludes with an examination of the years Wind spent in Hamburg before his forced emigration in 1933.

Tononi takes an experimental aesthetic perspective to analyse Wind’s interpretation of Warburg’s theory of images, focusing on the concepts of Einfühlung (empathy), collective memory, and the engram. He stresses the role that Warburg and Wind played in the study of the biology of images. In this way, Tononi explores the biological implications of images by discussing recent neuroscientific research on the universality of the expression of emotions and movements, empathy, collective memory, and the engram, in relation to Warburg’s and Wind’s insights. Tononi also discusses the disagreement between Wind and Gombrich over the correct interpretation of Warburg’s research and its significance. Finally, Tononi’s chapter regards Warburg’s and Wind’s research as forming a foundation for a theory of aesthetic response.

Drawing on both archival and published sources, Targia’s contribution compares Wind’s and Wölfflin’s perspectives on Raphael’s Vatican fresco The School of Athens. In his Die klassische Kunst (Wölfflin 1899), Wölfflin provided a detailed formal description of Raphael’s School of Athens, separating the concept of form from that of meaning. From a completely different perspective, Wind engaged in a polemic on Wölfflin’s interpretation, and discussed questions of perception and formal analysis.

Viola analyses Wind’s perspective on the genesis of symbolic faculties, which he derived from Ewald Hering’s understanding of memory. Viola also discusses Cassirer’s rejection of Hering’s argument that memory is made possible by habit acquisition and the repetition of stimulus–reaction cycles. Cassirer argued that memory is not the mere product of habit acquisition, but rather is the result of a synthesis of time as a transcendental form. Moreover, Viola argues that the disagreement between Hering and Cassirer, and therefore that between Cassirer and Wind, may shed some light on the ultimate foundation of a philosophy of culture, which can be either transcendental or naturalistic.

Part II examines Wind’s approach to the study of images. It includes the chapters of Franz Engel, Bernhard Buschendorf, Bernardino Branca, C. Oliver O’Donnell and Ianick Takaes de Oliveira. Engel’s chapter reconstructs Wind’s perspective on Albrecht Dürer’s Melencolia I by referring to unpublished material in the Edgar Wind Archive and contextualizing Wind’s contribution to the iconography and iconology of chaos. Engel’s primary sources are correspondence between Wind, Fritz Saxl, Panofsky and Raymond Klibansky. In this way, Engel is able to reconstruct parts of Wind’s argument, which Panofsky’s summary explains as the idea of “chaos reduced to cosmos”.

Buschendorf discusses the close intellectual connection between Warburg and Wind, and analyses Wind’s contribution to the conceptual basis of Warburg’s approach to cultural studies. Buschendorf argues that Wind applied to Warburg’s theory a series of major methodological maxims taken from the pragmatist philosophy of Charles Peirce. To explicate this, Buschendorf compares Warburg’s essay Francesco Sassetti’s Last Injunctions to His Sons (1907) with Wind’s article Albrecht von Brandenburg as St. Erasmus (1937). According to Buschendorf, the two studies employ the same methodology and share a thematic focus on the ‘afterlife of antiquity’. To further highlight the similarity of their implicit methodologies, Buschendorf also draws on Wind’s early theoretical articles.

Branca analyses the role of the concepts of embodiment and symbolic function in Wind’s lifelong studies of Michelangelo’s painting of the Sistine Chapel ceiling. According to Branca, these notions are essential for understanding the connections that Wind drew between the spiritual world of the age of Pope Julius II and the imagery on the chapel ceiling. For this purpose, Branca assesses Wind’s study of the prophets and sibyls on the ceiling. By marshalling evidence from Wind’s several published papers and unpublished drafts on Michelangelo, Branca explains Wind’s interpretation of the ceiling’s imagery as the embodiment of the ‘mystical’ metaphysics of the time. In Branca’s reading, Wind’s study of the prophets and sibyls displays the full range of Wind’s incorporation and modulation of Warburg’s ideas on the ‘afterlife of antiquity’.

O’Donnell’s historical study of Wind’s growing familiarity with Hume’s philosophy during his serial visits to England in 1930 and 1931 serves as a foundation for an analysis of Wind’s study of Enlightenment era thinking. O’Donnell focuses on Wind’s article Humanitätsidee und heroisiertes Porträt in der englischen Kultur des 18. Jahrhunderts, in which Wind uses Hume’s works to consider, both philosophically and historically, the production of portraits by Joshua Reynolds and Thomas Gainsborough.

Wind was notable (but not unique) among European scholars of Renaissance art for his deep interest in modern and contemporary art. In this context, Ianick Takaes de Oliveira analyses Wind’s critique of modern art in connection with the notion of humour. Takaes de Oliveira challenges the common view that Wind possessed an irascible and difficult personality, by highlighting his sense of humour. In fact, Wind considered comicality an important aspect of both artistic and scholarly production. In his writings on modern art, Wind regarded twentieth-century artistic production as humourless. Focusing on Art and Anarchy (1963), Takaes de Oliveira shows how this aspect of Wind’s persona is reflected in his works.

Part III of the book deals with Wind’s years as émigré scholar and public intellectual. It comprises the contributions of Oswyn Murray, Elizabeth Sears, Ben Thomas and Jaynie Anderson. The point of departure for Murray’s chapter is Wind’s life in Nazi Germany. Murray reconstructs Wind’s and Raymond Klibansky’s efforts in 1933 to save the KBW in Hamburg from the Nazis, and their attempt to relocate it to London and rename it the Warburg Institute. Sears reconstructs Wind’s developing interest in the ‘encyclopaedic imagination’, covering his early days as a librarian at the KBW in the 1930s, his time teaching at the University of Chicago in 1943, and beyond. In 1943, while briefly at the University of Chicago and embroiled in debates on pedagogy, Wind proposed publishing a monograph series titled “Encyclopaedic Studies”. Speaking of the “deadening effect” of departmentalism on the “encyclopaedic ideal”, he advocated for training the mind to reawaken an imagination that can connect a wide range of apparently disparate subjects, such as the histories of art, science, superstition, literature and religion.

4 | Edgar Wind, c. 1937–1939. Photograph by Adelheid Heimann. Courtesy of the Warburg Institute, London.

Thomas’s contribution is a document-based account of Wind’s years in Chicago (1942–1944). As Thomas argues, Wind’s brief time at the University of Chicago ended due to difficulties related to his health and relationships with colleagues. In his discussion Thomas draws on Wind’s correspondence with Saxl and other unpublished material from the Edgar Wind Archive.

Finally, Anderson considers the complex reactions to Art and Anarchy, ranging from the view that it is a book by a historian of Renaissance art who had made the blunder of thinking he understood modern art, to the interpretation that the book is a sophisticated overview of Wind’s philosophy of art.

Reactions, both positive and negative, to Wind before and after 1971 can now be properly historicized, and doing so will raise many thought-provoking points that will be highly relevant to contemporary discussions on art history, aesthetics and artistic practice. This volume seeks to clarify and enrich the study of Wind’s distinctive approach as a scholar and writer, while also examining his legacy as a major intellectual figure of his time. As one of the leading refugee scholars who taught in Europe and the United States, Wind was known internationally at the time of his death. Wind was a refugee in several senses. He was born in 1900 as a stateless person in Berlin to an Argentinian father of Russian origin. According to German law, Wind had to take his father’s nationality, whereas Argentinian law recognized only the nationality of his birthplace. Wind could not resolve the problem of his nationality until he was 30 years old, during the Nazi period. Then, in 1933, Wind lost his university position due to the Nazi regime, and became a displaced person when he moved the KBW to London (For an analysis of Wind’s reflections on his loss of freedom when he left Germany, see Thomas 2021b and Anderson 2022a).

Wind was a brilliant thinker in several fields, original in many aspects of his published work, and a captivating lecturer for all kinds of audiences (evident for instance in his Reith Lectures of 1960, first published as Art and Anarchy). The debates explored in the present volume raise questions that are of significance in the humanities. The close connections that Wind identified between Renaissance art and ancient philosophy, theology and imagery, as well as the broader connections between art and humanism, remain crucial matters of scholarly interest in both art history and the wider field of intellectual history. Moreover, this volume cements Wind’s status not just as an art historian but also more broadly as a public intellectual – the latter demonstrated by the BBC’s invitation to deliver the Reith lectures in 1960.

This volume is both a summation of previous interest in Wind and a new departure. The departure derives in part from the opportunity to use previously unpublished archival sources; it also comes from the fresh intellectual perspectives of several of the contributors. For example, while many existing studies have focused on Wind’s research on the Italian Renaissance and humanist thinking, this volume goes further to include his interests in pedagogy and new interdisciplinary approaches, and his engagement with and lecturing on modern art.

Wind’s work takes a unique approach, yet parallels that of other well-known figures, most notably Panofsky and Gombrich, who too were closely connected with – and partly formed by – the famous library and centre of scholarly research established by Aby Warburg. There is another dimension to Wind’s scholarly contributions that is discussed in depth in this volume: the intellectual clarity and conceptual acuity he brought to his work by virtue of his background as a philosopher.

All quotations from the published and unpublished writings of Edgar Wind are made by kind permission of the Literary Executors of the Estate of Edgar Wind.

  • Art and Anarchy
    E. Wind, Art and Anarchy: The Reith Lectures, 1960, Revised and Enlarged, London 1963.
  • The Eloquence of Symbols
    E. Wind, The Eloquence of Symbols: Studies in Humanist Art, edited by J. Anderson, with A Biographical Memoir by H. Lloyd-Jones, trans. by T.G. Rosenmeyer, P.L. Ganz, C. Gooden, E. Bowie and D. Russell, Oxford 1983; rev. edition Oxford 1993. 
  • L’Eloquenza dei simboli
    E. Wind, L’Eloquenza dei simboli – la Tempesta: commento sulle allegorie poetiche di Giorgione [The Eloquence of Symbol. Studies in Humanist Art, Oxford 1983], trad. di E. Colli, Milano 1992.
  • La elocuencia de los simbolos
    E. Wind, La elocuencia de los simbolos: Estudios sobre arte humanista [The Eloquence of Symbol. Studies in Humanist Art, Oxford 1983], editado por J. Anderson, trans. por L. Millán, Madrid 1993.
  • Shinboru no shūjigaku
    E. Wind, Shinboru no shūjigaku [The Eloquence of Symbol. Studies in Humanist Art, Oxford 1983], trans. by F. Akiba, T. Katō, M. Kanazawa, Tokyo 2007.
  • Humanitätsidee und heroisiertes Porträt
    E. Wind, Humanitätsidee und heroisiertes Porträt in der englischen Kultur des 18. Jahrhunderts, “Vorträge der Bibliothek Warburg 1930-1931”, Leipzig 1932, 156-229.
  • Humanitas e ritratto eroico
    E. Wind, Humanitas e ritratto eroico: Studi sul linguaggio figurativo del Settecento inglese [Humanitätsidee und heroisiertes Porträt in der englischen Kultur des 18. Jahrhunderts, in England und die Antike, Leipzig-Berlin 1931], edited by J. Anderson and C. Harrison, trad. di P. Bertolucci, Milano 2000. 
  • Hume and the Heroic Portrait
    E. Wind, Hume and the Heroic Portrait: Studies in Eighteenth-Century Imagery [Humanitätsidee und heroisiertes Porträt in der englischen Kultur des 18. Jahrhunderts, in England und die Antike, Leipzig-Berlin 1931], edited by J. Anderson, Oxford 1986.
  • The Sistine Ceiling
    E. Wind, The Religious Symbolism of Michelangelo: The Sistine Ceiling, edited by E. Sears, with essays by J. O’Malley and E. Sears, Oxford 2000.
Bibliographical References
  • Anderson 2022a
    J. Anderson, Edgar Wind and Giovanni Bellini’s Feast of the Gods: An Iconographic Enfant Terrible, “The Edgar Wind Journal” 2 (2022), 9-37.
  • Anderson 2022b
    J. Anderson, “Posthumous Reputations”: Edgar Wind’s Rejected Review of Ernst Gombrich’s Biography of Warburg, “The Edgar Wind Journal” 3 (2022), 14-35.
  • Branca 2019
    B. Branca, Edgar Wind, filosofo delle immagini: La biografia intellettuale di un discepolo di Aby Warburg, Milano 2019.
  • Branca 2020
    B. Branca (ed.), Edgar Wind’s Raphael Papers: The School of Athens, Wrocław 2020.
  • Branca 2021
    B. Branca, The Giordano Bruno Problem: Edgar Wind’s 1938 Letter to Frances Yates, “The Edgar Wind Journal” 1 (2021), 12-38.
  • Bredekamp et al. 1998
    H. Bredekamp, B. Buschendorf, F. Hartung, J. Krois (eds.), Edgar Wind: Kunsthistoriker und Philosoph, Berlin 1998.
  • Collenberg-Plotnikov 2021
    B. Collenberg-Plotnikov (hrsg.), Die allgemeine Kunstwissenschaft (1906-1943): Max Dessoir, Emil Utitz, August Schmarsow, Richard Hamann, Edgar Wind: Grundlagentexte, Hamburg 2021.
  • Engel 2012
    F. Engel, “In einem sehr geläuterten Sinne sind Sie doch eigentlich ein Empirist!”: Ernst Cassirer und Edgar Wind im Streit um die Verkörperung von Symbolen, in U. Feist and M. Rath (eds.), Et in imagine ego: Facetten von Bildakt und Verkörperung. Festgabe für Horst Bredekamp, Berlin 2012, 369-92.
  • Gilbert 1984
    C. Gilbert, Edgar Wind as Man and Thinker, “New Criterion Reader” 3 (1984), 36-41.
  • Gombrich 1970
    E. Gombrich, Aby Warburg: An Intellectual Biography, with a Memoir of the Library by F. Saxl, London 1970.
  • Hadot 1992
    P. Hadot, Métaphysique et images: Entretien avec Pierre Hadot, “Préfaces: Les idées et les sciences de l’édition européenne” (June 1992), 33-37.
  • Naval 2021
    A. Naval (ed.), Edgar Wind: A Bibliography of the Works and Secondary Literature, “La Rivista di Engramma” 184 (settembre 2021), 97-137.
  • Rampley 2017
    M. Rampley, Introduction, in E. Wind, Experiment and Metaphysics: Towards a Resolution of the Cosmological Antinomies, trans. by C.W. Edwards, Abingdon 2017, xiii–xxviii.
  • Sears 2023
    E. Sears, Aby Warburg’s Hertziana Lecture, 1929, “The Burlington Magazine” 165 (August 2023), 852-873.
  • Takaes 2017
    I. Takaes, Arte e transgressão em Edgar Wind: Um estudo sobre a armadura conceitual e a recepção de Art and Anarchy (1963), Master’s thesis, Universidade Estadual de Campinas, 2017.
  • Thomas 2015
    B. Thomas, Edgar Wind: A Short Biography, “Stanrzeczy” 1/8 (2015), 117-137.
  • Thomas 2021a
    B. Thomas, Edgar Wind and Modern Art: In Defence of Marginal Anarchy, London 2021.
  • Thomas 2021b
    B. Thomas, Freedom and Exile: Edgar Wind and the Congress for Cultural Freedom, “The Edgar Wind Journal” 1 (2021), 74-94.
  • Tononi 2022
    F. Tononi, Aby Warburg, Edgar Wind, and the Concept of Kulturwissenschaft: Reflections on Imagery, Symbols, and Expression, “The Edgar Wind Journal” 2 (2022), 38-74.
  • Tononi, Branca 2021
    F. Tononi, B. Branca, Introduction: Edgar Wind and a New Journal, “The Edgar Wind Journal” 1 (2021), 1-11.
  • Tononi, Branca 2022
    F. Tononi, B. Branca, Edgar Wind: Art and Embodiment, “The Edgar Wind Journal” 2 (2022), 1-8.
  • Wölfflin 1899
    H. Wölfflin, Die klassische Kunst: Eine Einführung in die italienische Renaissance, Munich 1899.
  • Zorach 2007
    R. Zorach, Love, Truth, Orthodoxy, Reticence; or, What Edgar Wind Didn’t See in Botticelli’s Primavera, “Critical Inquiry” 34 (2007), 190-224.

Ianick Takaes presents the volume Edgar Wind: Art and Embodiment, edited by Jaynie Anderson, Bernardino Branca and Fabio Tononi and published by Peter Lang. The collection of essays by various scholars explores a range of perspectives on Wind’s contributions to art history and philosophy.

keywords | Peter Lang; Aby Warburg; Embodiment; Art and Anarchy; Edgard Wind Journal.

doi: https://doi.org/10.25432/1826-901X/2024.211.0010