The Atlas and the Skyscraper: On Aby Warburg and Louis Sullivan


  • Davide Stimilli University of Colorado



Visual arts, Architecture., Aby Warburg, Louis Sullivan, Adolf Loos


J. L. Borges compared Orson Welles’s masterpiece Citizen Kane to a labyrinth without center, a building expanding horizontally with no limits in space, or synchronically with no limits in time. It may be tempting to compare Warburg’s atlas Mnemosyne to a building expanding with no limits vertically, or diachronically; but such a building has also a proper name, that of the Tower of Babel, or, if we were to translate it into a now common noun, a skyscraper. This type of building has its own Daedalus, the great North-American architect Louis Sullivan (1856 – 1924). My paper tells the story of the possible encounter between Warburg and the man who had arguably already invented the skyscraper by the time of Warburg’s American journey, and had already built enough to allow a prescient man such as Warburg to imagine what was to come — with the sky, literally, as the limit.


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Biografia do Autor

Davide Stimilli, University of Colorado

Davide Stimli (PhD) ensina alemão, literatura comparada e estudos judaicos na University of Colorado, Boulder, EUA. É autor de Fisionomia di Kafka (2001) e The Face of Immortality: Physiognomy and Criticism (2005), e co-editor da história clínica de Aby Warburg: Die unendliche Heilung. Aby Warburgs Krankengeschichte (2007) e uma coleção de seus escritos inéditos: "Per Monstra ad Sphaeram": Sternglaube und Bilddeutung. Vortrag in Gedenken an Franz Boll und andere Schriften 1923 bis 1925 (2008).


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Como Citar

STIMILLI, D. The Atlas and the Skyscraper: On Aby Warburg and Louis Sullivan. ARJ – Art Research Journal: Revista de Pesquisa em Artes, [S. l.], v. 9, n. 1, 2022. DOI: 10.36025/arj.v9i1.29657. Disponível em: Acesso em: 29 set. 2023.