Spiritual Paths to Abstract Art




Approaching 20th-century abstract art through the lens of religious studies, this course explores alternatives to twentieth-century narratives of modern art centered on the existential crisis of a heroic-- usually male, Caucasian and secular—individual.  In contrast, we will center paths to abstraction in which a departure from or repurposing of the figure emanates from spiritual sources not usually associated with modernity.  Locating the artists’ work within their biographies and their communities, the course focuses on abstraction as a vehicle for delving intersections of spirituality with history, race, ethnicity, class, gender and sexuality. 

Religious movements and experiences that led to abstraction, rather than the artistic styles that resulted, serve as the organizing principle for the syllabus.  We will attend to the outsize interest of abstract artists in Theosophy, as well as to paths to abstraction originating outside of Europe, and/or grounded in Indigeneity, Judaism, Christian Science, and the Occult.  Artists treated include Hilma af Klint, Wassily Kandinsky, Mary Sully, Hyman Bloom and Betye Saar, among others. Jointly offered in the Faculty of Arts and Sciences as Religion 1571.



Additional Information

Faculty: Ann Braude
Semester: Full Fall Term
Time: Tues, 10:00 - 11:59 a.m. ET
HDS 2082