Stephen O’Malley


Posted: May 29, 2008


Crowley artworks on show in Paris...

Ordo Templi Orientis has been working with the Centre Pompidou, the Warburg and the Palais de Tokyo to assist, in a minor way, with two truly important art shows, both featuring works by Aleister Crowley.

May 8 - August 11
The Centre Pompidou in Paris is mounting a show commemorating the anniversary of its founding as the most prominent state-owned museum of modern art in France, titled “Traces du Sacré.” The show opens to the public on May 7 in Gallery 1, and runs until August 11. The curators have assembled a wide-ranging exploration of spirituality and esotericism in Europe and America in last century, drawing on their own holdings as well as those of other institutions and collectors around the world. The Warburg Institute has kindly loaned four newly-restored Thoth Tarot paintings by Aleister Crowley and Frieda, Lady Harris: The High Priestess, The Hermit, The Moon and The Aeon. One important, previously unknown Aleister Crowley oil painting will be included in the “Great Initiates” section of the show, kindly loaned by the owner of the group of paintings that form the second Palais du Tokyo show (discussed in detail below, this show runs concurrently with the Centre Pompidou show for a month from June 5). Also on view will be Cameron’s remarkable large-scale portait of Jack Parsons, “Dark Angel” — all part of the curatorial take on the “Lucifer Rising” mythos of Kenneth Anger. Also featured are works by Harry Smith, Jordan Belson and many others influenced directly or indirectly by Crowley and his students. Of course the overall context of the show, including Arp, Brancusi, Chagall, De Chirico, Dali, Dix, DuChamp, Giocometti, Goya, Kandinsky, Klee, Kupka, Miro, Mondrian, Munch, Picasso, Warhol etc. etc., is breathtaking. That Crowley should be included with these artists in a retrospective — one that takes into account the incredibly influential spiritual and artistic undergrounds — is groundbreaking. A comprehensive catalog will be available for purchase. After Paris, a smaller group of works (that will not include the Crowley-Harris Thoth paintings) travels to Münich.

The Centre Pompidou’s own English show synopsis (as of late fall of last year and therefore subject to change) is as follows:

Title: Traces du sacré
Site: Centre Georges Pompidou – MNAM
Dates: 7th May 2008 – 11th August 2008. Paris
Theme: The relations between spirituality and Western art of the 20th Century
Curators: Alfred Pacquement, Jean de Loisy, Angela Lampe
Number of works: about 350 (including documents)
Second venue : Haus der Kunst, Munich, 11th September 2008 – 11th January 2009
The Centre Pompidou is in preparation of a major exhibition that will explore some of the predominant aspects in the relationship between Western art and spirituality. This inquiry will have as its foundational starting point, within the history of art, the faith-seeking vision undertaken by the German Romantics, as well as a Nietzscheian philosophy that sought a revaluation of society, proclaiming the death of God. The 20th Century was ushered in deep within this tumult of upturning beliefs, within the modernization of Western societies, heavy with what Max Weber asserted as the “disenchantment of the world.” The combating forces of capitalism and Marxism, the triumph of industry, the rapid development of the urban landscape, the spread of psycho-analytical theories, the rise of utopian tendencies, all pushed modern man further and further into not only reconsidering his religious stance and his place within existence, but into being forced, compelled, necessitated into reconsidering this spiritual orientation. This spiritual crisis unleashed a host of new forms within the metaphysical questioning of art. From Wassily Kandinsky to Francis Bacon, from Barnett Newman to Bill Viola, from Brancusi to Cattelan, modern art continually forms diverse and opposing responses to this spiritual interrogation, sometimes as answer, sometimes as further question.
The aim of this exhibition is to explore, throughout the 20th Century, the most outstanding artistic expressions of this spiritual quest and to show how it continually, up to the present day, invents new, dynamic signs.
The exhibition follows a chronological path and deals directly with many of the major aesthetic movements of the 20th century; a rich documentation will clarify and support their historical, cultural, and philosophical contexts. Each room is separately devoted to a specific response to the spiritual crisis. In order to evaluate the permanence of these responses through the century, each specific room, in building historical moments, will also include the work of a contemporary artist. To highlight the universality of the inquiry, a few non-western works will also be included.
(This following non exhaustive list is the one of the exhibition in Paris. The second venue in Munich will present a reduced, concentrated version. Works only shown in Paris)
* Metaphysical anxiety: Christian Boltanski, Mounir Fatmi, Bruce Nauman
* Dead of God: Francisco Goya, Caspar David Friedrich, August Strindberg, Edvard Munch, Henry De Groux, Lucio Fontana, Gino De Dominicis, Carl Gustav Carus
* Nostalgia for the infinite: Giorgio De Chirico, Odilon Redon, Ferdinand Hodler, Pierre Huyghe, Constantin Brancusi, Gina Pane, Damien Hirst
* The great initiates: Jean Delville, Charles Sellier, Rudolph Steiner, Aleister Crowley, Hugo Ball, Gino De Dominicis
* Syncretism: Paul Elie Ranson, Hilma Af Klint, Marcel Duchamp, Akseli Gallen Kallela, Piet Mondrian, Usco
* Aura: Frantisek Kupka, Marcel Duchamp, Theo Van Doesbourg, Vassily Kandinsky, Yves Klein, James Lee Byars
* Metaphysical Science: Frantisek Kupka, Kasimir Malevitch, Yvan Kliun, Augusto Giacometti, Rudolph Steiner, Paul Sérusier, Anish Kapoor, Frank Scurti
* Cosmogonics: Andrej Belyj, Hilma Af Klint, Johannes Itten, Gulya Pap, Sigmar Polke, Augustin Lesage, Matt Mullican
* Crystal: Hermann Obrist, Wenzel Hablick, Kurt Schwitters, Hans Scharoun, Johannes Molzahn, Hermann Finsterlin, Wassili Luckhardt, Pablo Picasso, Pierre Huyghe, Corey Mc Corkle, Akunov
* Homo novus: Paul Klee, Andrej Belyj, Jean Delville, Umberto Boccioni, Otto Dix, Marc Chagall, Frantisek Kupka, Alexej von Jawlensky, Adel Abdessemed
* The Absolute: Piet Mondrian, Kasimir Malevith, Constantin Brancusi, Niele Toroni
* Eden: Franz Marc, Vladimir Baranov-Rossiné, Erich Heckel, Jean Arp, Paul Klee
* Dance: André Derain, Emil Nolde, Vaslav Nijinski, Antoine Bourdelle, Mary Wigman, Ernst Kirchner, Léon Backst, Adolphe de Meyer, Auguste Rodin, Rudolf Von Laban
* Discovering other spiritualities: Emil Nolde, Pablo Picasso, Marcel Janco, Cameron Jamie, Aby Warburg et André Breton, Victor Brauner, Jan Matulka, Lee Miller, Roland Penrose
* Eros et Thanatos: Salvador Dali, Eli Lotar, Man Ray, André Masson, Pierre Molinier, Pablo Picasso, Stanikas
* Profanation: George Grosz, Max Ernst, Francis Picabia, Salvador Dali, Man Ray, Thierry De Cordier, Antonin Artaud, Mounir Fatmi, John Latham, Andrès Serrano
* Apocalypse: Vassily Kandinsky, Max Beckmann, Otto Dix, Wilhelm Lehmbruck, Murnau, Maurizio Cattelan, Douglas Gordon, Bruno Perramant
* Man of sorrow: Francis Bacon, Robert Smithson, Jerzi Grotowsky, Christer Strömholm, Bruce Nauman
* Room for St John of the Cross: Bill Viola
* The renaissance of religion after 1950: Maurice Denis, Georges Rouault, Fernand Leger, Henri Matisse, Le Corbusier, Germaine Richier, Jean Lurçat, Joseph Beuys, Jacques Lipchitz
* Despate of the night: Jean-Michel Alberola, Pierre Buraglio, Thierry De Cordier, Jannis Kounellis, Mark Rothko, Kris Martin, Yazid Oulab, Eli Petel, Emmanuel Saulnier
* Mythmakers: Matta, Wifredo Lam, Jackson Pollock, Mark Rothko, Barnett Newman, André Masson, Lee Mullican, Wolfgang Paalen, Robert Smithson, Tobias Collier
* Sublime: Barnett Newman
* Shamanism: Joseph Beuys, Hans Namuth/Pollock, Etienne-Martin
* Beat: Allen Ginsberg, Brion Gysin, Wallace Berman, Bruce Conner, Jay DeFeo, John Giorno, Henri Michaux, Jean-Jacques Lebel, Allen Ginsberg, Jack Kerouac, Aldous Huxley
* Lucifer Rising: Rick Griffin / Kenneth Anger, Cameron, Aleister Crowley / Frieda Harris
* Psychedelics: Isaac Abrams, Jud Yalkut, Pardo, Peter Segdley, Paul Thek, Patrick O’Neill, Usco, Harry Smith, Joshua White
* Sacrifice: Marina Abramovic, Rebecca Horn, Michel Journiac, Herman Nitsch, Yazid Oulab
* Zen: Nam June Paik, Robert Filliou, John Cage, Jean Degottex, Ad Reinhardt, Charwei Tsai, On Kawara, Roman Opalka
* Shadow of God: Andy Warhol, Moshe Ninio, Paul Chan
* Desecularisation: Jean-Michel Alberola, Jonathan Monk

June 6 - 29
This opening of the show at the Palais de Tokyo is June 5, 7-9 p.m. Kenneth Anger will be on hand at the opening and events are expected to be scheduled. This important show features a newly discovered trove of important oil paintings by Aleister Crowley. This amazing collection, owned by descendants of an artist-acquaintance of Crowley’s in Sicily, was only recently brought to light by Dr. Marco Pasi, the well-known Crowley scholar on the faculty of the University of Amsterdam’s graduate school in Hermeticism and Related Currents. Fifteen paintings of the sixteen in the collection will be exhibited — one, as noted above, is included in the Centre Pompidou show. A color catalog is being produced that will include articles by Dr. Pasi and others. This show is a rare chance to see a unified collection of oils that are of such quality that they may well provide the basis for the serious attention of art scholars and critics that Crowley’s painting deserves. Dating from his Cefalu period, they comprise an amazing collection of works produced when Crowley was at the height of his artistic powers.

Le Hiérophante (Tarot Card Study)

Oil on wood, 24.20 x 19 cm. Copyright © Ordo Templi Orientis.