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Are All Artists Mystics?
The Case of Leonardo da Vinci

There has always been another image of Leonardo, one that associated him with hidden things, esoteric knowledge beyond common perceptions.

Blind Faith

In 2019, a small painting found in the kitchen of an elderly Frenchwoman sold at auction for almost 27 million dollars.

Pious Disfiguration

A small gold-ground panel painting has been brought out of storage and placed upon an easel for my viewing in a curatorial office at the Metropolitan Museum of Art. In this provisional display, this painting stimulates reflections about the historical spiritual imagination.

The Painter & The Preacher: Botticelli’s Mystic Nativity and Savonarola’s Sermons

At first glance, Mystic Nativity looks like any number of Renaissance representations of the birth of Christ. At second glance, the work becomes more unsettling and its “mystical” characteristics come to the fore

Scrapping the Sacred

A 500-year-old painting of a man praying to nothing (or at least nothing visible) lingered in storage at the Princeton University Art Museum. Chief Conservator Bart Devolder and I got talking. Something had to be missing.

What Happened When Renaissance Artists Prayed While Painting?

Sometime in the late 1500s an unnamed artist set out to paint a replica of the Shroud of Turin for King Philip II of Spain.

Mysticism to Wear

The printed black rectangle, representing a pair of cloth pendants seen and unseen, provides a key for understanding this mass-produced ancien régime image: its enacted uses, and its affective powers.

Non-anthropocentric extension into an abstract infinite sphere

The term “mysticism” leaves most art-world insiders cold for several obvious reasons. That category of experience is commonly taken to mean perception beyond the norm, thus a claim to higher sensory and cognitive powers.

On Being Sane

Roger Cardinal coined the term “outsider” in 1972, using examples of European art, and specifically the work of psychiatric hospital patients collected by the artist Jean Dubuffet under the heading of Art Brut.


The Brooklyn Rail

JUL-AUG 2021

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