The twentieth century seemed destined according to one art historian, to become not an age of reason, but a visual age in which images would afford more enlightenment and intellectual pleasure than the written or spoken word. Writing in 1948, Fritz Saxl was referring not only to the rise of cinematic art, but also to a major transformation in the way his predecessors had begun to view culture in
general-as a process of image-making. In The Survival of Images, Louis Rose offers an engaging exploration of these changes as they occurred in three key areas of inquiry at the turn of the century: art history, classics, and the emerging field of psychoanalysis.
Approaching all three fields as cultural sciences, Rose compares their shared interests in cultural surfaces and depths, in what is evident and what is hidden. In all three, he reveals a rudimental concern with the links among image, drama, and movement. On the one hand, art historians, classicists, and psychoanalysts sought to relate the creations of artists to the products of collective cultural enactments such as ritual and theater. On the other, they explored the
creative and psychological process by which mental images became translated into visual pictures conveying life and motion.
Rose focuses on an influential circle of thinkers who interpreted art and the psyche, including Sigmund Freud, art historian Aby Warburg (founder of the Warburg Library of Cultural Science), classicist Emanuel Loewy (also a friend of Freud), Warburg's successor, Fritz Saxl, and art historian-turned psychoanalyst Ernst Kris (student of Freud and Loewy). Discussing each one's endeavors within a historically rich context, The Survival of Images offers penetrating insights into the concepts and methods that would animate the study of culture for much of the twentieth century.
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