The Occult in Modern Art 101

Leonora Carrington

Leonora Carrington "La maja del tarot" 1965

An illustrated lecture by Pam Grossman
Date: Friday, November 18th
Time: 8pm
Admission: $8
Presented by: Phantasmaphile

Though few history books make mention of it, many of our most lauded artists — Picasso, Kandinsky, Mondrian, Duchamp, to name but a few — were deeply influenced by the occult.  The imagery and tenets of arcane traditions including alchemy, Spiritualism, Theosophy, and shamanism have infused the work of artists through the ages.  Beginning with the Symbolists, then spiraling through such periods as Cubism, Dada, Surrealism (with its wonderfully witchy women), Abstract Expressionism, and the visionary art of today, this evening’s lecture will be a visual primer on the existence of magic in our museums and galleries.

Pam Grossman is an independent curator and lifelong student of magical practice and history.  She is the creator of Phantasmaphile, a blog which specializes in art and culture with an esoteric or fantastical bent.  Her group art shows, Fata Morgana: The New Female Fantasists, VISION QUEST, and Alchemically Yours have been featured by such outlets as Boing Boing, CREATIVE TIME, Time Out New York, Juxtapoz, Arthur, 20×200,, and Neil Gaiman’s Twitter.  She is a co-founder of Observatory, where her programming aims to explore mysticism via a scholarly yet accessible approach.  By day, she is the Creative Planning Manager for Getty Images North America.

Insects, Naturalists, Dioramas, and World Travels

<strong>Joianne Bittle</strong>, <em> Jewel Beetle (ventral view)<em>, 2007 graphite on paper 44 x 90.5 inches
Joianne Bittle, Jewel Beetle (ventral view), 2007 graphite on paper 44 x 90.5 inches

Date: March 19, 2010
Time: 8:00
Admission: $5.00

Curious Expeditions and Observatory present a talk of insects, world travel, and art with Joianne Bittle, contributing artist to the current Observatory show Entomologia, and diorama artist for the American Museum of Natural History.

Artist Joianne Bittle will discuss her series of beetle paintings, A Royal Family, as well as her large, four-paneled graphite drawing of the jewel beetle from Southeast Asia. These works are the result of six years of observing, from life, four different types of beetle specimens. Watch an image timeline of diorama projects she has completed at the American Museum of Natural History and learn about the naturalists and scientists at the Museum who have inspired her work. In addition, Bittle will discuss influential artists, her travels around the world as well as her current paintings and drawings of the black-tailed jackrabbit and its harsh environment, the desert.