Aby Warburg and Pueblo Art

Kachine Warburg MARKK

ABOVE: Katsina figure of Sa’lakwmana. Artist unknown. Hopi; Arizona, United Stages.1890–1895.   
Wood, pigment, natural fiber.
Acquired by Aby Warburg in Walpi.
MARKK (1902), inv. B 6152.
© MARKK, photo: Paul Schimweg.


HAMBURG—Between 1899 and 1902, Warburg donated his Pueblo collection, with its ceramic works, ­Katsina figures, textiles, and basketry plaques, to the then Museum of Ethnology in Hamburg (today Museum am Rothenbaum - Kulturen und Künste der Welt, MARKK), where it fell into oblivion.

For the first time, it is now the subject of its own interdisciplinary, curated special exhibition titled Lightning Symbol and Snake Dance. Aby Warburg and Pueblo Art, which was curated by this author together with the art historian and Warburg expert Uwe Fleckner.

It critically examines Warburg’s collection and travels from different perspectives. Highlighting Pueblo artworks, it points to a forgotten interplay between ethnology and art research in the museum’s origins, which again is playing a central role in today’s museum work.

It is also the first time that academic experts and representatives of various Pueblo communities (e.g. from the Hopi, from San Ildefonso Pueblo, and Cochiti Pueblo) have together been actively involved in a reappraisal of Warburg’s collection of artifacts held by the MARKK, as well as his photographs and documents now in the collection of the Warburg Institute in London.

See our review of the exhibition in issue #104 - Summer 2022.

issue 104 Summer 2022

Lightning Symbol and Snake Dance. Aby Warburg and Pueblo Art
MARRK, Hamburg
Until January 2023

Aby Warburg Hopi MARKK

ABOVE: View of the Hopi village of Walpi. Arizona, United States. April 1896.  
Aby Warburg Collection.
Warburg Institute archives, London.

Aby Warburg Hopi MARKK

Early Sikyatki Revival decorated bowl, attributed to Nampeyo. Hopi-Tewa; Southwest, United States. C. 1895.    
Slipped terracotta.
Acquired by Aby Warburg from Thomas V. Keam, Santa Fe.
MARKK (1902), inv. B 6106.
© MARKK, photo: Paul Schimweg.

Aby Warburg Hopi MARKK

ABOVE: Dance accessory, probably for Los Matachines. Artist unknown. Rio Grande Pueblo, New Mexico, United States.
C. 1890–1895.
Wood, pigment, vegetal fiber, leather.  Acquired by Aby Warburg from Jake Gold, Santa Fe.
MARKK, inv. B 6127.
© MARKK, photo: Paul Schimweg.

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