Why are so many current art exhibitions fascinated by the occult? The present age of anxiety has triggered a new interest in the paranormal—Gemma Tipton, The Irish Times [HT Andrew Chestnut]
On a recent trip to Munich I was transported by the collection of works by the Blue Rider group at the Lenbachhaus. The artists, which included Wassily Kandinsky, Franz Marc, Gabriele Münter and Paul Klee, made the jump from representation to abstraction, and I could have sat for hours coming to see, through their paintings, something deeper than myself. Klee’s aim was, as the information sign put it, “making visible the mysterious realm between the appearance of things and their essence with emblematic signs”.
Since mark-making first began, this has been both inspiration and goal for many artists and yet, in an art world shaped by a certain breed of influential curators and wealthy collectors, this strand of making has been seen as, perhaps, lesser than shiny marketable art, cleverly political work, or self-referential pieces that speak to a group of insiders. But recently, a spate of shows points to a renewed interest in a vein of art that never actually went away.
At MoMA in New York, Tony Oursler’s Imponderable explores the occult in a sprawling show that takes in Arthur Conan Doyle, Harry Houdini and a cast of mediums, ghosts and spirits (it ends on April 16th). Susan MacWilliam’s Modern Experiments (just concluded at Highlanes) delved into paranormal phenomena. Jesse Jones’ Tremble Tremble, opening at the Venice Biennale in May, uses imagery from the tarot as a key set of emblems; while Imma has just opened its major exhibition As Above, So Below (which runs until August 27th).