20 May 2021, The Tablet

Sacred art without saints

Sacred art without saints

Komposition, 1934, by Léo Leuppi
Hanina fine arts


Spirituality & Abstraction in Post-War Europe
Hanina Fine Arts, London

“We have before us the age of conscious creation, and the new spirit in painting is going hand in hand with the spirit of thought towards an epoch of great spiritual leaders.” With this prediction, Wassily Kandinsky ended his 1910 essay, Concerning the Spiritual in Art.

Like other avant-garde contemporaries, including Piet Mondrian and Paul Klee, Kandinsky had fallen under the spell of Theosophy, an esoteric religious movement founded 35 years earlier in New York by the Russian-born Helena Petrovna Blavatsky. A heady mix of Neoplatonism and contemporary spiritualism liberally spiced with Hindu and Buddhist philosophies, Theosophy’s concept of a universal harmony underlying the world’s apparent chaos had a particular appeal to painters engaged in a daily struggle to create pictorial harmony from diverse shapes and colours.

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