Friday lates: magical modernism: modern art and the occult
Time: 18:00 - 20:00
This course will be delivered online. See the ‘What is the course about?’ section in course details for more information.
This course has now finished
What is the course about?
As the 20th century dawned, Industrial transformation, scientific discovery and the spiritual blowback of empire brought cultural upheaval to Europe. Modern Art was the crucible in which this turmoil transmuted, producing new forms of materialised magic. From the ‘Theosophical’ abstractions of Wassily Kandinsky and Piet Mondrian, to Kazimir Malevich, Hilma af Klint and Sonia Delaunay, the rules of representation were upended in a quest to paint the invisible. Elsewhere, groups from the Hermetic Order of the Golden Dawn to the Bauhaus drew on Kabbalistic colour theories to speculate on secret languages of colour and geometry. Meanwhile, where Surrealism turned to alchemy and spiritualist trances, speculations on the 4th dimension offered a veneer of vitalist pseudo-science to Cubism’s more mystic musings. From Symbolism’s Occult Revival, right through to Abstract Expressionism and beyond, we lift the lid on the powerful undercurrents of magic, spiritualism and the occult that lie at the very heart of Modernism.
This is a live online course. You will need:
- Internet connection. The classes work best with Chrome.
- A computer with microphone and camera is best (e.g. a PC/laptop/iMac/MacBook), or a tablet/iPad/smart phone/iPhone if you don't have a computer.
We will contact you with joining instructions before your course starts.
What will we cover?
• The birth of Modernism in Symbolism and the Occult Revival
• The emergence of abstraction from Theosophy and mediumistic trances
• Vitalist currents and Imperialist blowbacks from ‘the East’ in Futurism, Dada and Orphism
• 4th-Dimension and Non-Euclidean Geometry in Cubism
• Alchemy and Spiritualist influences in Surrealism
• Magical colour theory, from Kabbalah to the Bauhaus and beyond.
What will I achieve?
By the end of this course you should be able to...
• Discuss occult influences upon the emergence of Modern Art
• Name three social factors that led to this fascination with new forms spiritual expression
• List at least three Modern Artists whose work drew on esoteric influences.
What level is the course and do I need any particular skills?
This course is suitable for all levels.
You should be able to follow simple written and verbal instructions, demonstrations, hand-outs and health and safety information, and will be invited to take part in group discussion.
How will I be taught, and will there be any work outside the class?
You will be taught through an online slide presentation, talk and group discussion.
Are there any other costs? Is there anything I need to bring?
You might wish to buy a notebook. You might wish to buy some of the books on any reading list given out in class.
When I've finished, what course can I do next?
Our Friday Lates series runs in the autumn and spring terms - search 'Friday lates' to find more…
You might also be interested in:
VB671 - Friday lates: art and alchemy - from ancient to contemporary
VB603 - Movements in Art: Cubism and Futurism
VB142 - Art evolutions: Pop to post-internet art
VB857 - Art and science
VB866 - Focus on: Art and Medicine.
Christopher Collier trained as an artist, before gaining an MA in Cultural Studies at Goldsmiths and a PhD in Art History and Theory from the University of Essex. He has taught at institutions including the University of Essex, Cambridge School of Art, and Winchester School of Art, as well as presenting internationally at a range of workshops and conferences, including at the ICA, London and CCA, Glasgow. His broad range of interests includes the intersections of art and the more-than-human world, along with art's relations to wider political economy and cultural theory. He is an Associate Fellow of the Higher Education Academy.
Please note: We reserve the right to change our tutors from those advertised. This happens rarely, but if it does, we are unable to refund fees due to this. Our tutors may have different teaching styles; however we guarantee a consistent quality of teaching in all our courses.