The art of Patten Wilson, 1868–1928

wilson3.jpg

The Four Seasons (1897).

Typically gorgeous work from the unjustly neglected Victorian illustrator. There’s more scans of the Coleridge illustrations (shown below) at Dr Chris Mullen’s excellent Visual Telling of Stories site.

Continue reading “The art of Patten Wilson, 1868–1928”

The art of Cameron, 1922–1995

cameron_work01.jpg

Fairy Queen (1962), ink and dyes on parchment.

A rare exhibition of work by occult artist Cameron, aka Marjorie Cameron Parsons Kimmel, can be seen at the Nicole Klagsbrun Gallery in New York.

Nicole Klagsbrun Gallery is pleased to present an exhibition of work by Cameron (1922–1995), curated by Michael Duncan, George Herms, and Nicole Klagsbrun. The exhibition runs from January 12 until February 10, 2007. An opening reception will be held on Friday, January 12, from 6–8 pm.

This survey is the first solo gallery exhibition of artist, performer, poet, and occult practitioner, Cameron (Marjorie Cameron Parsons Kimmel). A maverick follower of the esoteric mysticism of Aleister Crowley and his philosophical group, the OTO (Ordo Templi Orientis), Cameron was also an accomplished painter and draftsman and mentor to younger artists and poets such as Wallace Berman, George Herms, and David Meltzer. While enlisted in the Navy, she was assigned the tasks of drawing maps and working in a photographic unit, which led to attendance at art classes after being discharged. In Los Angeles, she became the wife and spiritual avatar of scientist and mystical thinker Jack Parsons (1914–1952), one of the founders of the Jet Propulsion Laboratory and an influential leader of the OTO.

marjorie_cameron.jpg

The mundane Cameron during the Second World War.

In the early 1950s, Cameron met the fellow LA artist and jazz enthusiast Wallace Berman who was fascinated by her artwork, poetry, and mystical aura. In 1955 Berman used his photograph of Cameron as the cover of his literary and artistic journal Semina and included in the issue a drawing she had made the previous year. The drawing became renowned when the police cited it as ?lewd? and shut down Berman’s 1957 exhibition at Ferus Gallery. After this experience, Cameron, like Berman, refused to show her art in commercial galleries. She remained, however, a crucial figure in the Berman circle. Cameron’s romantic aesthetic and commanding persona prompted filmmaker Curtis Harrington to commemorate her output as a visual artist in The Wormwood Star (1955), a lyrical short film recording the art and atmosphere of her candlelit studio. Filmmaker Kenneth Anger cast her in a leading role opposite Anäis Nin in his film Inauguration of the Pleasure Dome (1954).

cameron.jpg

The occult Cameron, manifesting as the Scarlet Women for Kenneth Anger.

Despite the grim fatality of much of her writings, Cameron?s artworks portray a fanciful, even wistful lyricism. In the early 1960s she corresponded with Joseph Campbell, citing her interest in his book The Hero with a Thousand Faces, as well as in the fiction of Hermann Hesse and Isak Dinesen. Consumed by myth and the idea of protean growth, Cameron depicted the process of metamorphosis and transformation in hundreds of line drawings where ominous figures and landscapes emerge from uniformly striated, passionately articulated ink marks. Other gouache drawings and paintings depict mythic figures of her own creation engaged in ritualistic, symbolic acts.

For now, her work is barely visible on the web but there’s another small gallery of her pictures here. And just to show how MySpace is seemingly intent on resurrecting everyone who ever lived, Marjorie Cameron, Babalon 156 is in your extended network.

Nicole Klagsbrun Gallery
526 West 26th St, no. 213,
New York.

Via Jay.

Previously on { feuilleton }
Kenneth Anger on DVD…finally
Austin Osman Spare

The art of Nicholas Kalmakoff, 1873–1955

astarte.jpg

Astarte (1926).

Kalmakoff’s beautiful paintings turn up most often (if at all) in collections of Symbolist art although most of his work comes after the Symbolist period which was pretty much killed off by the revelations of Cubism. Like Harry Clarke, Kalmakoff is one of those artists who evidently felt that the aesthetics of the 1890s required further exploration; like Clarke there’s also some interesting occult illustration going on. Unlike Clarke (whose work appeared in lavish illustrated books and stained glass window designs) he had to contend with an art world that had little time for imagination unless it was presented in a Surrealist package. Kalmakoff’s fascinating story is detailed here and there are three galleries of his paintings here.

Previously on { feuilleton }
Austin Osman Spare

Austin Osman Spare

spare.jpg

Today is the 50th anniversary of the death of one of my favourite artists, Austin Osman Spare.

Like many people in the 1970s, I was introduced to the work of Austin Spare by Man, Myth and Magic, a seven volume “illustrated encyclopedia of the supernatural” published weekly in 120 112 parts by Purnell. My mother was a Dennis Wheatley reader so we had a couple of occult paperbacks in the house, among them one of William Seabrook‘s accounts of voodoo in Haiti and a copy of Richard Cavendish’s wonderful magical primer, The Black Arts, (later retitled The Magical Arts). Cavendish had been chosen as editor of Man, Myth and Magic and included occultist and writer Kenneth Grant on his editorial staff, a decision that gave the book’s producers access to Grant’s collection of Spare pictures. In a rather bold move, they launched Man, Myth and Magic in 1970 with a detail of a Spare drawing on the cover, a work often referred to as The Elemental although the authoritative Spare collection, Zos Speaks has it titled as The Vampires are Coming. It’s a shame that AOS didn’t live for a few more years to see this; after labouring in poverty and obscurity for most of his life he would have found his work flooding Britain, with this first issue on sale all over the country and the cover picture being pasted on billboards and sold as posters. It’s possible there were even television adverts for the book (although I don’t recall any), since there usually were for expensive part works like this.

Continue reading “Austin Osman Spare”