Thursday, August 21, 2014

Blavatsky News

*  The Milwaukee Art Museum exhibition “Kandinsky: A Retrospective” will be on view until September 1, 2014. Debra Brehmer’s review “Kandinsky’s Cosmic Consciousness” sees Kandinsky’s stay at the Bavarian village of Murnau in 1909 as transformative:

The group was reading and thinking about Madame Helena Blavatsky, Rudolf Steiner, and theosophy. They retreated to this village to shun fin de siecle industrialization and materialism, replacing smoke stacks and factories with auras, astral bodies, and atoms. Theosophy represented a dimension outside the clutches of greed and development, a more utopian universalism, as did ethnographic sources ranging from Russian folk art to Oceanic, African, Japanese, and Native American art.

The exhibition offers one more big bang. Midway through the show is a constructed room of “wall paintings” that Kandinsky planned and executed in 1922 with students at the Bauhaus. In the 1970s, his surviving wife, Nina, orchestrated their re-creation from preparatory gouache studies for the grand opening of the Pompidou. They have never been shown in the US. One enters the room, engulfed floor to ceiling with enlarged Kandinsky collisions. By the 1920s, whiffs of Matisse, Klee, Miro and Malevich had synthesized into his own sandwich style: compilations and overlapping layers of gloriously colored marks, oozing clouds of fluff, shapes, lines, stuttering rhythms of dots and arcs — a veritable theater of formal inventiveness.

The exhibition is put together with the Centre Pompidou in Paris.

*  Christopher Loring Knowles offers an in-depth examination of “Lovecraft's Secret Source for the Cthulhu Mythos.” While mentioning Blavatsky and the stanzas of Dzyan, he seems to find more of an influence in the works of Alice Bailey.

H.P. Lovecraft claimed in a letter to Conan author Robert E. Howard that the Cthulhu Mythos was his own creation. Even diehard Lovecraft fans don't buy that anymore. Lovecraft was a voracious reader (meaning he was poor and not exactly prolific) and was a hardcore fanboy before fanboys were a thing. He famously wore his influences on his sleeve (Dunsany, Poe, etc), but maybe there were some he kept a bit closer to his vest.

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