Two forms of gesture: notes on Aby Warburg and Walter Benjamin

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The paper both connects and disassociates the work of Walter Benjamin and Aby Warburg. There are two interrelated undertakings. The first involves the relationship between philosophy and art history and thus how art history figures within the philosophical. The second pertains to the status of the image. Part of the argument to be advanced is that an engagement with philosophical approach to art history yields a concern with the image in which it is the image’s material presence that proves decisive. Indeed, it is by insisting on the object's materiality that it then becomes possible to locate the effective presence of the gesture as integral to the work of art. The contention is that gesture is the intersection of art’s material presence and the concerns of meaning. The paper us develop via an engagement with works by Edgar Degas and Luca Signorelli.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)21-40
Number of pages20
Issue number1
Publication statusPublished - 2017


  • Aby Warburg
  • Edgar Degas
  • Gesture
  • Luca Signorelli
  • Walter Benjamin

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