|Oskar-Fischinger Blue-Cristal 1951|
Around the time Blavatsky
News was re-launched, an important international academic research project was
happening, Enchanted Modernities, an ambitious, ground-breaking historical exploration of the influence of the theosophical movement on the
arts, with major art exhibitions, conferences and musical events. For various
reasons, we did not give it much coverage, despite the fact
that I even attended an event in Montreal, which was well-received. As I do
think that this was a remarkable undertaking in many ways, that is bound to
have a positive impact on the theosophical movement for some time, I now
rectify my oversight by filing a long overdue report. Enchanted Modernities is presumably
a take on William James’ account of the disenchantment of the world that
modernity has occasioned, Enchanted Modernities being therefore a corrective
aiming at showing how esoteric currents continued to bring forms of enchantment
durign the rapid modernization of the 20th century, perhaps opening the door
for post-modern trends.
|[L-R] Christopher M. Scheer, James Mansell and Sarah V. Turner.|
The origin of Enchanted Modernities
In 2014, the ground-breaking exhibition Enchanted Modernities charted the way Blavatsky’s Theosophy impacted the art of the American mid-West, influencing such artists as Agnes Pelton, Gordon Onslow Ford and Beatrice Wood. In this interview the editors Sarah V. Turner, Christopher M. Scheer & James G. Mansell discuss the origins of the project – now a major book – with FULGUR’s Ellen Hausner.
And we kind of decided after talking as a group that we should have a one day symposium at Liverpool Hope, which is really I think what we could say was the beginning of this project: organising it together, inviting people from around the world who were also looking at the influence of Theosophy in the arts to present on that day. And one of the outcomes of that day after discussion with participants was the need to see if we could create a network with the work we were doing and the connections we were making—and so we applied for a Leverhulme networking grant. We were lucky enough to be successful in getting a networking grant from the Leverhulme, and that brought a number of universities and scholars who were working in the area of Theosophy and the arts together to pursue a proposed three-year slate of activities around the world.
Enchanted Modernities Theosophy, Modernism and the arts, c. 1865-1960
The project is delivering a range of internationally-significant outcomes including:
- the establishment and development of an international network of scholars;
- the staging of international research events including an inaugural conference entitled Enchanted Modernities: Theosophy and the Arts in the Modern World which was held at the University of Amsterdam in September 2013 and a second conference Theosophy and the Arts: Texts and Contexts of Modern Enchantment scheduled to take place at Columbia University, New York, 9-10 (Friday-Saturday) October 2015;
- a display entitled Pioneering Spirit: Maud MacCarthy - Mysticism, Music and Modernity featuring archival material from the Foulds/MacCarthy Archive Collection at the Borthwick Institute for Archives, University of York and the digitisation of that display now available online;
- a UK Tour in May 2013 by the Fry Street Quartet, entitled Hearing Enchantment: Music through Theosophy;
- Enchanted Modernities: Mysticism, Landscape and the American West, a major exhibition of Theosophically inspired visual art and innovative sound installation that draws on the permanent art collection at the Nora Eccles Harrison Museum, Utah State University (open from April-December 2014);
- a much needed resource hub for researchers.
Theosophy and the Society in the Public Eye
The Story of Count Prozor Marty Bax – the Netherlands
On January 1, 1915, the Theosophical Society registered its 57,762-nd. member at the headquarters in Adyar, India. The popularity of the Society had increased immensely. More people joined the society in the 1910s than in the 30-year period 1875-1905.
A list of those members includes a colorful bunch of people: Karl Wolfskehl, Piet Mondrian, Jiddu Krishnamurti, Christian Morgenstern, Fritz von Herzmanovsky, Ada Fuller, Emily Lutyens, Ely Star, Ananda Coomaraswamy, Marie Langen-von Strachwitz, Countess Maria Radziwill, Henri Soubeyran de Saint-Prix, and Prince Mohamed Riza Khan. Behind every name is a story, sometimes with a surprising twist.
Friday, October 9, 2015 - Saturday, October 10, 2015
This is the second conference of the international research network Enchanted Modernities: Theosophy, Modernism and the Arts, c.1875-1960 funded by the Leverhulme Trust. The Network’s first conference, ‘Enchanted Modernities: Theosophy and the Arts in the Modern World’ held at the University of Amsterdam in 2013, mapped Theosophy’s varied influence on painting, sculpture, applied and decorative arts, music, architecture and other art forms in the period c.1875-1960. It focused on the translation of Theosophical ideas, especially those of key figures in the Theosophical Society in this period, such as Helena Petrovna Blavatsky and Annie Besant, into material, visual, and audible form.
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