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Xavier Narbón’s

Xavier Narbón’s research interest centers on the cultural history of political persuasion strategies in the Modern Period. He is currently a member of the research group “Power & Representations. Cultural transfers in the Modern Age” [http://transferts.education].The project examines the role of culture in enhancing the cohesion of complex political systems. The rulers of the Spanish Monarchy, the case study selected, relied on Catholicism to legitimize their territorial possessions and unite territories often divided by a long history of disagreement. Iconoclastic fury in the Low Countries was the trigger for the main rebellion within their dominions.

Warburg’s Mnemosyne Atlas as another iconoclastic way

There are other forms of iconoclasm besides the destruction of idols. For example, an iconoclast can be considered one who, instead of eliminating a deified image, reveals the trick of a magician. The manipulator distracts attention with the gesture of one hand while the other
acts. This action affects everyone when it is driven by political-economic power.
The aim of Aby Warburg’s Mnemosyne Atlas (1924-1929) is to finish with the magic, to reveal the hidden plot that seeks to dominate society. His first panel already announces this: at the top, a map of the zodiac constellations; in the middle, Europe; and below, a genealogical tree of the Medici-Tornabuoni banking family. The Renaissance elites accumulate wealth and influence because it is dictated by the stars from birth, an illusion they display on the roofs of their palaces, in the same way that a war is justified by a prophecy. Warburg treats the image as a snake which can both heal with its medicinal poison or kill with its bite or constriction. His research shows the persuasive power of political speeches intended to arouse emotions. Power fosters the splendour of triumph whose visual ecstasy is designed to inspire the military spirit. And at the same time, religious ritual is offered as a palliative to fear of suffering or death. It is no coincidence that the image of pathos dominates the entire Atlas and ends with an extreme unction.
This paper aims to explain the dual role of image: as both a weapon of propaganda and a device to reveal the truth. It shows two different montages: the persuasive one, controlled by people in power through the ages, which is dismantled by the other, the photographic Warburg’s Atlas. A mirror broken into fragments, therefore, breaks the mirage. A new iconoclastic way.

Key words: Iconology, Political emotions, Crowd manipulation, Montage, Aby Warburg