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Haunted Visions: Spiritualism and American Art (Arts and Intellectual Life in Modern America)

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Haunted Visions: Spiritualism and American Art (Arts and Intellectual Life in Modern America) Cover

 

Synopses & Reviews

Publisher Comments:

Spiritualism is a monotheistic religion with one distinguishing belief: that the dead can be contacted, either by lay individuals or by gifted or trained mediums, and through this process believers can learn about the afterlife. It emerged in western New York state in 1848 and by 1897 was said to have more than eight million followers in the United States and Europe, mostly drawn from the middle and upper classes. In Haunted Visions: Spiritualism and American Art, Charles Colbert takes a fascinating and original look at the nineteenth- and early twentieth-century intersections between religion and art history, focusing in particular on the ways Spiritualism imbued the making and experiencing of art with religious meaning.

Examining the work of well-known American artists such as James Abbott McNeill Whistler, William Sydney Mount, and Robert Henri, Colbert demonstrates that Spiritualism played a critical role in the reception of art and the development of modern ways of seeing it. He argues that Spiritualism made a singular contribution to the sanctification of art that occurred in the latter half of the nineteenth century. Because the faith maintained that spiritual energies could reside in objects, works of art might be appreciated not only for what they illustrated but also as vessels of psychic vibrations their creators impressed into them. Such beliefs sanctified both the making and collecting of art in an era when Darwinism and Positivism were increasingly disenchanting the world and the efforts to represent it. Since it did not posit an antithesis between spirit and matter, Spiritualism made the artist's profession a religious calling. It did not seek to replace religion with art, but to make art a site where religion happened.

Book News Annotation:

The introductory essay on the history and teaching of spiritualism explains the confluence of cultural factors that made Americans in the latter half of the 19th century look to other worldliness for sources of inspiration and strength. Interest in art arose in concurrence as artistic representations began to be viewed as a focus of spiritual representation. Colbert (art history, Portland State U., Oregon) offers a lively, in-depth investigation of the crossing influences of the spiritualist movements and art in America. Well-chosen illustrations (in b&w) help bring home the themes. Annotation ©2011 Book News, Inc., Portland, OR (booknews.com)

Synopsis:

Spiritualism emerged in western New York in 1848 and soon achieved a wide following due to its claim that the living could commune with the dead. In Haunted Visions: Spiritualism and American Art, Charles Colbert focuses on the ways Spiritualism imbued the making and viewing of art with religious meaning and, in doing so, draws fascinating connections between art and faith in the Victorian age.Examining the work of such well-known American artists as James Abbott McNeill Whistler, William Sydney Mount, and Robert Henri, Colbert demonstrates that Spiritualism played a critical role in the evolution of modern attitudes toward creativity. He argues that Spiritualism made a singular contribution to the sanctification of art that occurred in the latter half of the nineteenth century. The faith maintained that spiritual energies could reside in objects, and thus works of art could be appreciated not only for what they illustrated but also as vessels of the psychic vibrations their creators impressed into them. Such beliefs sanctified both the making and collecting of art in an era when Darwinism and Positivism were increasingly disenchanting the world and the efforts to represent it. In this context, Spiritualism endowed the artist's profession with the prestige of a religious calling; in doing so, it sought not to replace religion with art, but to make art a site where religion happened.

Product Details

ISBN:
9780812243253
Author:
Colbert, Charles
Publisher:
University of Pennsylvania Press
Subject:
US History-19th Century
Subject:
Art-History and Criticism
Publication Date:
20110531
Binding:
HARDCOVER
Language:
English

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Related Subjects

Arts and Entertainment » Art » General
Arts and Entertainment » Art » History and Criticism
Arts and Entertainment » Art » United States General
Religion » Spirituality » General

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Product details pages University of Pennsylvania Press - English 9780812243253 Reviews:
"Synopsis" by , Spiritualism emerged in western New York in 1848 and soon achieved a wide following due to its claim that the living could commune with the dead. In Haunted Visions: Spiritualism and American Art, Charles Colbert focuses on the ways Spiritualism imbued the making and viewing of art with religious meaning and, in doing so, draws fascinating connections between art and faith in the Victorian age.Examining the work of such well-known American artists as James Abbott McNeill Whistler, William Sydney Mount, and Robert Henri, Colbert demonstrates that Spiritualism played a critical role in the evolution of modern attitudes toward creativity. He argues that Spiritualism made a singular contribution to the sanctification of art that occurred in the latter half of the nineteenth century. The faith maintained that spiritual energies could reside in objects, and thus works of art could be appreciated not only for what they illustrated but also as vessels of the psychic vibrations their creators impressed into them. Such beliefs sanctified both the making and collecting of art in an era when Darwinism and Positivism were increasingly disenchanting the world and the efforts to represent it. In this context, Spiritualism endowed the artist's profession with the prestige of a religious calling; in doing so, it sought not to replace religion with art, but to make art a site where religion happened.
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