Les Rêves Canadiens
Weisberger, Edward (ed). The Spiritual in Art: Abstract Painting 1890-1985. New York:
This is a great book which I thoroughly enjoyed reading. It is a book describing the art of the
show The Spiritual in Art, which is housed in the Los Angeles County Museum of Art and also
exhibited in Chicago and the Hague. It gives the outsider of the art world a permanent home
where they can reside as a family.
Seventeen essays are linked by the editors into a deep meaningful and loving collection of
the thoughts and feelings of the devoted people who started and added to this movement. It is
a movement which had the highest goals rooted in the deepest spiritual questions. Here it is
honoured to the fullest. The colour plates are tastefully displayed and spread throughout the
book at just the right place to illustrate the pertinant points.
I have been a student of the Miraculous for many years and disagree with some of the
directions, but I could never disagree with the intentions of any of the artists. The view is that
this world is a shody shadow of the real reality that lies between the line and on the other side
of the canvas and that we only attempt to portray that dimention as best we can. Many of the
works are tender testemonials of heart felt experiences, with the real naivetie of a child.
I do find that there is a clinical and almost militaristic flavour brought to the art by over
zealous and missionistic followers. This is often but not always displayed in the geometrical
works. A lot of this work stems from messages of Pythagoras and as a whole leans on
messages from the past many of which are right but many wrong. In some cases the spiritual
ideals come mainly from the intellect instead of from the heart and tempered by the the
intellect. This is true of the whole generation at the turn of the century who were westling with
new ideas while still wearing restraining corsets of body and mind.
Most of the work tends to be Expressionist and Abstract as aposed to Impressionist which
tends to polarise the exhibit. This is a fundamental mistake in a spiritual display. I don't believe
there is polarisation in spirituality. It was with great relief that I saw Frantisek Kupka's Water;
The Bather on page 331 and some of his later works with birth images in soft oval forms
similar to Georgia O'Keefe.
Colour was slow to present itself in the movement, but is now in full force with in the
continuing movement. Now there is a need to bring in humour. The same humour that Gurdjieff
displays but which his disiples seem so unhappy and awkward with. God needed to have a
sense of humour to present us with this Gordian Knot and with a shife full of sharp instuments.
A good book and a hard subject that will not be completed till the end when we rest in that
soft floodind light.
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