Walter Benjamin: A Reflection in Pictures

Architecture and art have played a particular part for Walter Benjamin, because the relation of the past to the present was not of a temporal but of a figurative nature for him. Thus, according to his conception, the past could converge with the present via a flashlike image to form a ‘constellation’ and produce a ‘profane enlightenment’. Just like a configuration can be seen in the bright spots of a starry sky, interpreted as an astronomical constellation, the past is captured in a ‘dialectical picture in a standstill’. The conceptual arguments are only the ‘reverberating thunder’. Not only works of the visual arts, like Paul Klee’s water colour ‘Angelus Novus’, but in particular buildings and cities provided such dialectical images for him, as a ‘past become space’, for instance with arcades, panoramas or interiors, which made him see through the dreams, ideals and phantasms of a collective. An exhibition at the Architekturmuseum in Munich, entitled Walter Benjamin: A Reflection in Pictures, explores Benjamin's complex relationship with architecture. On view until June 19.