Sunday, August 3, 2014

Blavatsky News

*  The weblog at the New Criterion looks at the exhibition on Kandinsky at New York’s Guggenheim Museum, which opened June 27, 2014, and will be on view until the Spring of 2015:

It seems as if by titling the exhibition Kandinsky Before Abstraction, the curators were hoping to be able to present the artist before his introduction to theosophy, before his association with the occultists Madame Blavatsky and Annie Besant, before he became devoted to all the spiritual beliefs that we now deem silly and slightly embarrassing. Yet I do not think Kandinsky would have leapt so boldly towards the expressive use of color and abstraction if he did not sincerely believe, as many theosophists then did, that colors and shapes corresponded to particular spiritual values, or that the material universe was literally on the way to dissolution. Of course he was a diligent painter with a wide range of visual interests and references, but his sensibility and work cannot be explained solely through these means. We should not be embarrassed by his beliefs; other artists have believed things as dubious and far more sinister. But rarely have there been paintings so good or so singular.

*  The Los Angeles Museum of Contemporary Art will be hosting an upcoming retrospective from October 11, 2014 to January 11, 2015 on countercultural icon Cameron (or Marjorie Cameron, 1922–1995). The site Flavorwire, which covers news about Art, Books, Photography, Film, Design, Television, the Web, Media, Theatre, Fashion, Music, Celebrity, and Pop Culture, says that “The exhibition offers a rare look at the life and work of a female occult practitioner — too frequently depicted as mere muse or lunatic, even though female-centric mysticism has existed for thousands of years,” and lists “a few other female occultists who deserve mention,” including H. P. Blavatsky. The notice on her is generic but the company she is placed in is telling.

Described as “A seminal figure within LA’s mid-century counterculture, Cameron’s work contains echoes of an important time that is also our time. A younger generation will be fascinated by her unique melding of surrealism and mysticism, and by her commitment to live her life as art,” explains guest curator Yael Lipschutz on the upcoming show at MOCA.

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