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Home arrow ART arrow The roots of a Century. Peggy Guggenheim Collection and the Mystical Symbolism
The roots of a Century. Peggy Guggenheim Collection and the Mystical Symbolism
Written by Franca Lugato   
mercoledì, 08 novembre 2017


The influence of Symbolism on the birth and development of early XX-century Avant-gardes often falls off the radar. However, exhibition Mystical Symbolism: The Salon de la Rose+Croix in Paris, 1892–1897, recently inaugurated at Peggy Guggenheim’s, brings to light a network of hidden links with some of the Collection’s own pieces. curator of the exhibition Vivien Green explains how André Breton and the surrealists knew about the writings of Joseph Péladan, founder of the Rosicrucian Order, and how Theosophy and occultism had a great influence on then-budding Abstract Art.


The exhibition begins with the first manifesto for the Parisian Salon of 1982 by German Carlos Schwabe, where Rosicrucian symbolism is apparent: the purity of the lily, the heart as symbol of faith, bleeding roses surrounding crosses, allusions to a Christlike dimension, the staircase to a spiritual dimension, and the transformation of the feminine figure from femme fatale to femme fragile: white, thin, ethereal. Three large portraits depict Péladan in a purple robe and a Velázquezian dandy attitude, his eyes looking, aloof and detached, upwards. Séon is another devotee of the Salon de la R+C. He adheres to Péladan’s spiritual and ideal values and is one of the best pupils of Puvis de Chavennes.


In the simplicity of his Orpheus' Lament, with the desperate poet covering his face, the artist’s debt to the great symbolist maestro is obvious. This fascinating, suggestive immersion in mystical symbolism includes pieces by outcasts Felix Vallotton and Charles Maurin. Virtuoso engravers, their politicized subjects challenge the viewer and the critic as they steer away from the guidelines of the Sār (Assyrian for guide, meaning Péladan himself) and that is why they strike our attention so much. Idealist and hermetical paintings by Maurin, of flat colour fields and bold framing, are allegories of the evil of capitalism and of the upheaval of the oppressed.

«Mystical Symbolism: The Salon de la Rose+Croix in Paris, 1892–1897»
Until 7 January 2018

Peggy Guggenheim Collection, Dorsoduro 701 - Venezia


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