The relevance of Aby Warburg for any concern with the image that is identified with the contemporary is clear. The context is Aby Warburg’s engagement with La cappella Sassetti in the Basilica di Santa Trinita in Florence. Warburg’s approach complicates conventional understandings of how the work of historical time is understood. Gesture is the point at which the body and the conditions for meaning intersect. The projected rapprochement between balance and empathy – clear in Aby Warburg – is itself of great significance. In Friedrich Vischer’s formulation of ‘empathy’, and thus in his account of the relation between subject and object, it is possible to locate the important conditions of possibility underpinning it. Vischer argues that what occurs is the projection of life into a lifeless form. It is essential to begin with the simple evocation of gesture.