Panofsky - Warburg - Cassirer. From Iconology to Image Science

In Homo Pictor. Image Studies and Archaeology in Dialogue [Freiburger Studien zur Archäologie & Visuellen Kultur 2], ed. by Jacobus Bracker, Heidelberg: Propylaeum. pp. 159-171 (2020)
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Abstract
Neither the art historians Panofsky and Warburg nor the philosopher Cassirer had any interest with their cultural-historical research in fact-based, historical questions. An approach that had become common in the 19th century due to the loss of validity of the speculative aesthetics. On the contrary, instead of this substantial understanding as the documentary concept represents, these researchers focused on a functional understanding of art historical sources. Nevertheless, in contrast to this starting point, Panofsky invented a methodological procedure, the so-called iconological method, which in turn led back to a documentary-focused historical analysis of artistic artefacts that is still recognized today. The goal is to rediscover the original background of Panofsky´s method. This should make it clear that the original idea of the image concept pursued by Warburg and Cassirer, which had been lost or obscured by the aftermath of National Socialism in Germany, can be made fruitful in a new light today. This path may open up iconology to “image science”/Bildwissenschaft and thus transform the former from a purely historical approach to an understanding relevant to cultural processes and thus to human action.
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