Bilderfahrzeuge – Aby Warburg’s Legacy and the Future of Iconology

Bilderfahrzeuge – Aby Warburg’s Legacy and the Future of Iconology

Cooperative Project

International Research Network


Coordinator: Johannes von Mueller (The Warburg Institute, London)



Dr. Linda Báez Rubí (The Warburg Institute, London)

Dr. Rebecca R. Darley (The Warburg Institute, London)

Dr. Philipp Ekardt (The Warburg Institute, London)

Dr. Hans Christian Hönes (The Warburg Institute, London)

Prof. Dr. Christopher D. Johnson (The Warburg Institute, London)

Dr. phil. Eckart Marchand, Archive (The Warburg Institute, London)

Reena Panchal, Project Assistant (The Warburg Institute, London)

Beatrice Rennhack, Verwaltung (Max Weber Stiftung, Bonn)

Dr. Victor Claass, (DFK Paris until 30.06.2018)


“Bilderfahrzeuge,” which translates literally as “image vehicle,” is a term coined by the German art historian Aby Warburg (1866–1929). It refers to a fundamental concept in Warburg’s work, which sought to trace lines of continuity linking Antiquity with the Renaissance—lines that he saw as emerging from the migration of images, “Bilderwanderung.”

The research project “Bilderfahrzeuge: Aby Warburg’s Legacy and the Future of Iconology” sets out to explore the migration of images, objects, commodities, and texts, in short: to examine the migration of ideas in a broad historical and geographical context. It is funded by the German Federal Ministry of Education and Research (Bundesministerium für Bildung und Forschung), realized in cooperation with the Max Weber Foundation, and situated at the Warburg Institute, London, as well as at the German Center for Art History in Paris, the Humboldt University of Berlin, the Kunsthistorisches Institut, Florence, and the Warburg Haus, Hamburg. Each institution is represented by one of the five professors who also direct the research project: Andreas Beyer (Basel/Paris) who also functions as the research center’s speaker, Horst Bredekamp (Berlin), Uwe Fleckner (Hamburg), David Freedberg (London), and Gerhard Wolf (Florence).


The research project is aimed at making a fundamental contribution to a renewed cultural history—through a history of images and ideas explored in an interdisciplinary and international setting. Through its own specific experience in dealing with images, art history, as a field, is able to establish an image’s independent significance and to incorporate this as an autonomous and constitutive aspect in an interdisciplinary form of cultural studies. One of the benefits of the “Bilderfahrzeuge” research project lies in respecting this very character of images without, however, allowing opposition of image and text to arise. Instead, an attempt is made to describe and work with the ways in which they inspire and complement each other. At the same time, the research project is sustained by exchange and dialog between disciplines, which is solely responsible for making this broad cultural studies-based approach possible. It offers the methodological tools to grasp and analyze the transfer of concepts and forms of images and to do so from a perspective that extends beyond limitations of time and genre. 






Prof. Dr. Andreas Beyer

Former Director of the DFK Paris (2009–2014)