Atlas, or the Anxious Gay Science

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9780226439471: Atlas, or the Anxious Gay Science
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Aby Warburg's Mnemosyne Atlas (1925-1929) is a prescient work of mixed media assemblage, made up of hundreds of images culled from antiquity to the Renaissance and arranged into startling juxtapositions. Warburg's allusive atlas sought to illuminate the pains of his final years, after he had suffered a breakdown and been institutionalized. It continues to influence contemporary artists today, including Gerhard Richter and Mark Dion. In this illustrated exploration of Warburg and his great work, Georges Didi-Huberman leaps from Mnemosyne Atlas into a set of musings on the relation between suffering and knowledge in Western thought, and on the creative results of associative thinking. Deploying writing that delights in dramatic jump cuts reminiscent of Warburg's idiosyncratic juxtapositions, and drawing on a set of sources that ranges from ancient Babylon to Walter Benjamin, Atlas, or the Anxious Gay Science is rich in Didi-Huberman's trademark combination of elan and insight.

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"The central question in the books in the series is how images--or better, a montage of images--can provide a form of knowledge about various forms of oppression and suffering throughout the course of history, conjoined with a desire to rise up against this oppression and to cope with the burden: a predicament for which the mythological figure of Atlas serves as an emblem. . . . The book itself offers a wealth of reflections on artists such as Francisco Goya, Charles Baudelaire, Katsushika Hokusai and others, and explores theoretical insights from Michel Foucault, Gilles Deleuze, Georges Bataille, and Theodor Adorno. The sheer number of artists and theorists that make an appearance in the book and that Didi-Huberman discusses is truly overwhelming. When reading the book, which pairs many images with Didi-Huberman's beautiful sentences . . . it becomes apparent that the style of the book reflects its topic: just like the atlas, Didi-Huberman imaginatively traces affinities and correspondences between various artists and theorists without glossing over their differences. . . . With Atlas, or the Anxious Gay Science, the English reader has now one of the best entry points into the fascinating and ever-expanding universe that Didi-Huberman has been creating and in which it is a great pleasure to lose oneself."--Critical Inquiry

About the Author:

Georges Didi-Huberman is a French philosopher and art historian who teaches at the Ecole des Hautes etudes en Sciences Sociales in Paris. Shane Lillis is a translator.

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