Lightning Symbol and Snake Dance

Aby Warburg and Pueblo Art

Poster motif Lightning symbol and snake dance. Aby Warburg and the Pueblo Art

With “Lightning Symbol and Snake Dance,” the MARKK presents its Aby Warburg Collection for the first time in its entirety. In 1923, the Hamburg-based art and cultural historian elaborated on his journey of 1895/96 through the American Southwest and his encounter with the Pueblo societies there in his famous lecture on the “Serpent Ritual”.

Yet, the objects he collected and donated to the Hamburg Museum had fallen in oblivion; they include ornate ceramics, ceremonial dance regalia, and impressive Katsina figures.

The exhibition examines their cultural significance, sheds critical light on their acquisition history, and also incorporates artistic positions of today’s Pueblo societies. It also addresses the issue of non-displayable objects and images, and how to respectfully deal with culturally sensitive content.

The exhibition takes place in cooperation with the Warburg Institute London. With financial support from the Exhibition Fund of Freie und Hansestadt Hamburg, the Warburg-Melchior-Olearius Foundation and the American Consulate General in Hamburg. The exhibition catalogue is supported by the Hermann Reemtsma Foundation. Restoration funding by the Ernst von Siemens Kunststiftung.


sponsored by

in cooperation with                           catalogue funding
restoration funding
Ernst von Siemens Kunststiftung
cultural partner

Opening Weekend

Opening weekend from March 4 – 6 with lectures, panel discussions, and curator tours.

Fr 4. März | 16 Uhr
Aby Warburgs View of Pueblo Art and Culture
guided tour on the occasion of the opening (in German)

Fr 4. März | 17 Uhr
An Art Historian in Search of Symbolic Art. Aby Warburg in the Land of the Pueblo curator’s tour with Uwe Fleckner curator’s tour with Uwe Fleckner (in German)

Fr 4. März | 19 Uhr 
Chances and Challenges of Collaborative Museum Work with Pueblo Communities
lecture and panel discussion in English with Dr. Joseph Aguilar (archeologist und Deputy Officer Tribal Historic Preservation Office San Ildefonso Pueblo, New Mexico)  Lea S. McChesney (curator Maxwell Museum of Anthropology, Albuquerque), Bill Sherman (director Warburg Institute London), Uwe Fleckner (exhibition curator, Universität Hamburg, Warburg-Haus Hamburg), Christine Chávez (exhibition curator MARKK). Moderation: Barbara Plankensteiner (director MARKK).

Sa 5. März | 13 Uhr
Aby Warburg Goes to North America
guided tour for children and families (in German)

Sa 5. März | 14 Uhr 
Between Afterlife and Crossing Borders – Aby Warburg’s Collection of Symbolic Pueblo Art
curator’s tour with Christine Chávez (in German) 

Sa 5. März | 15.30 Uhr 
The Legacy of Master Potter Nampeyo for Native American Art 
lecture by Lea S. McChesney (Maxwell Museum of Anthropology)

So 6. März | 11 Uhr 
Lightning Arrows and Stepped Clouds. What Patterns Can Tell Us 
curator’s tour for families with Christine Chávez (in German)

So 6. März | 13 Uhr 
Aby Warburg Goes to North America.
guided tour for children and families (in German)

So 6. März | 14 Uhr
Aby Warburg’s View of Pueblo Art and Culture
guided tour (in German)

So 6. März | 15.30 Uhr
Hopi Pottery in the Aby Warburg Collection
exhibition talk with Lea S. McChesney (in English)


Lightning Symbol and Snake Dance

Aby Warburg and Pueblo Art

Christine Chávez, Uwe Fleckner (Hg.), 2022

396 pp. | Hardcover

ISBN 978-3-7757-5202-2

Museum price € 49,90

From the Exhibition

Pseudo ceremonial clay vessel with snake motif and stepped rim