Pathos, pathology and the still-mobile image: A warburgian reading of held by Garry Stewart and Lois Greenfield

Document Type

Journal Article


Centre for Performance Studies


Faculty of Education and Arts


Western Australian Academy of Performing Arts (WAAPA)




Marshall, J. (2008). Pathos, Pathology and the Still-Mobile Image: A Warburgian Reading of Held by Garry Stewart and Lois Greenfield. In About Performance (No. 8, p. 180). Centre for Performance Studies. Available here


At the dawn of the twentieth century, European society seemed to be hurtling into the future. Etienne-Jules Marey was producing his influential stop-motion images and composite photographs of moving bodies at his Physiological Laboratory from 1880 to 1903 (figs 1-2), while the Lumiere brothers screened the first movie in 1895. At the same time, however, figures such as Marey's colleague Paul Richer (lecturer in physiology and aesthetics at the Paris School of Fine Arts) and their German peer Aby Warburg sought to give the image back to the stability of history and the past, to ground this newly activated sense of embodied mobility within a hierarchical narrative of Classical art and aesthetics. Richer's extension of the canon of Classicism to encompass those recently described "incessant changes" in the plastic shape and position of the limbs and their muscles constituted an attempt to produce a Modern rationalist model of beaux-arts academicism (1897a; Marshall 2007 2008b). Warburg's formulation of the opposition between the Dionysian mobility of Classical art and its Apollonian formalism, by contrast, represented an avant-garde response to the challenges of Modernity and movement (Warburg 1999).