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Austin Osman Spare: The Occult Life of London's Legendary Artist (Anglais) Broché – 4 février 2014

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Revue de presse

From the foreword: "Phil Baker has established himself as among the very best contemporary biographers... What Baker has accomplished here is little short of marvellous."
—Alan Moore, author of Watchmen, V for Vendetta, and From Hell

"[written with] zest and insight .... Ever determined to break down the barriers between reality and fantasy, Spare has finally achieved it--not by elaborate psychic exercises, but through biography."
—The Times Literary Supplement

"Baker has a fine store of anecdotes... What emerges is a portrait of a marginal figure forever ahead of the curve: [Spare]'s cited as the precursor of surrealism, pop art and even psychoanalysis."
—The Guardian

"Baker is a wonderful writer, careful, intelligent, and dry. He also knows his London, and the Spare that emerges in his portrayal is very much an avatar of that unique and ancient town."
—Erik Davis, author of Techgnosis and Nomad Codes

"The time is over-ripe for a proper biography of this curious figure, and it is a pleasure to report that Phil Baker's study is a first-rate performance, scrupulously researched, judicious, and refreshingly sane .... By the end of this admirable book, Spare comes to seem a strangely attractive figure: talented, stoical, randy, cantankerous, gentle, and a magnificent English eccentric."
—The Literary Review

"I cannot recommend Austin Osman Spare too highly. Phil Baker has done a wonderful job of bringing the complexities and contradictions of Spare's life to the fore, and in making the London of Spare's time come to life vividly and richly."
—Phil Hine, author of Condensed Chaos

Présentation de l'éditeur

Austin Osman Spare is the definitive biography of the controversial occultist and artist, an enfant terrible of the Edwardian art world whose work was both hailed as genius and decried as immoral decadence. As George Bernard Shaw reportedly said, "Spare's medicine is too strong for the average man."

Trained as a draughtsman, Spare enjoyed early acclaim when, at the age of seventeen, his work was shown at the Royal Academy in London. But his star soon declined; Spare went underground, falling out of the gallery system to live in poverty and obscurity. After a brief association with Aleister Crowley, he became absorbed in occultism and sorcery, voyaging into inner dimensions, while developing his own magical philosophy of pleasure, obsession, and the subjective nature of reality. All the while, Spare continued to produce extraordinary art, and held his exhibitions outside of the conventional art world, in London pubs.

Today Spare is both forgotten and famous, a cult figure whose modest life has been much mythologised since his death; the world's largest Spare collection is held by Jimmy Page of Led Zeppelin. Biographer Phil Baker separates fact from myth, providing wide-ranging insights into Spare's art and mind, reconnecting him with the art community that ignored him and exploring the rich tapestry of the culture that surrounded him, interweaving the birth of psychoanalysis, the historiography of the occult, and the British class system. This richly readable and illuminating biography, containing 50 black and white and 8 color photographs of Spare's art, takes us deep into the strange inner world of this enigmatic artist.

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Commentaires client les plus utiles sur (beta) 5 commentaires
3 internautes sur 3 ont trouvé ce commentaire utile 
very well done biography 18 mai 2014
Par Joseph L. Kolb - Publié sur
Format: Broché
this is a very well done biography on a fascinating, complex and talented individual. the book also has a great foreward by artist alan moore who is accomplished in his own right. the book covers spare's life in detail from his youth to his declining health. spare's artistic talent covered a broad range of styles and manners. he did portraits, automatic drawing, landscape, pastels, surrealism and other art forms of the day. he had many shows displaying his art. hitler requested him to do his portrait which spare turned down. he associated with aliester crowley (not liking him), the golden dawn (briefly), yeats, victor neuberg and kenneth and steffi grant (who brought spare into the modern occult awareness). the book does dwell into his struggles in life and making a living, it does cover his correspondence with freud and also discusses his empathy towards animals and human suffering. yes, he does draw many down and out individuals, but that is where spare lived and related to. spare did a lot towards spiritualism with his own brand of magick and sigils. with regards to mental illness, anyone studying the topic knows there is a strong correlatiion between mental illness and creativity. i'm not too sure why the previous reviewer wants a feminist view of spare, but that should not deter from anyone studying his work on their own, not caring what other groups should think of him. some of his art is on the grotesque lines, maybe that is what the previous reviewer is referring to. the book has many illustrations, some in color in the book. there is an extensive bibliography in the back for further studies. all in all an excellent study on someone who's artistic talent and eye when far beyond what we view in this reality.
0 internautes sur 1 ont trouvé ce commentaire utile 
Excellent biography about the man Art History forgot 17 janvier 2015
Par Derek Hunter - Publié sur
Format: Broché Achat vérifié
Excellent biography about the man Art History forgot, Austin Osman Spare. Much of what the Surrealists did can be found in Spare's art and writing, decades before. Not only was Spare's art groundbreaking and revolutionary but he was equally pioneering in the realms of Esoteric and Occult studies. The currently popular Chaos Magick movement is enormously in Spare's debt, and the originators of Chaos Magick, people such as Phile Hine and Peter Carrol acknowledge their debt to him. Besides being the Godfather of both Surrealism and Chaos Magick, Spare's life was fascinating. Phil Baker's biography is equally fascinating, putting the reader into the time and place of Spare's London right away and one never feels ever leaving that time and place, following Spare's life decade after decade with ease and swiftness.

Spare is perhaps one of the most overlooked historical figures of the 20th century. As Alan Moore says, Spare was perhaps the most important Magician of the 20th century (and thus he's saying this with the knowledge that yes Aleister Crowley was in the 20th century too ...), and also one of the greatest artists of his time, despite few people even knowing about him. Austin Osman Spare: The Occult Life of London's Legendary Artist is a MUST for ANYONE interested in art history and Esoteric practices. I also highly recommend it to anyone who is not particularly knowledgable about either field. Spare's life and work is immediate and dramatic and entertaining. His art can connect in a way to anyone that much art of the 20th century cannot. His occult philosophy is also able to connect to anyone in a way that makes the practice of Magick personal and very doable. This biography by Baker is WAY overdo and its nice to see the first major biography on Spare is as excellent as this one.
0 internautes sur 1 ont trouvé ce commentaire utile 
Great in depth look at an Occultist who can be ... 13 novembre 2014
Par Amazon Customer - Publié sur
Format: Broché
Great in depth look at an Occultist who can be hard to find info on. This book goes into his youth and his association with Crowley and his Magazine. in his later life performs magic for Kenneth Grant becoming a legend in his old age showing the father of the Wiccan Religion a thing or two about Sigil Magic. There is also an Introduction By Allen Moore. If you have not seen Allen Moore's Documentary "Mind Scape of Allen Moore" where he talks about Kenneth grant and English Magic and his disdain for what Hollywood has done with his great comics he wrote in the 80s. You will learn about the first Surrealist painter before it had a name at a time when Salvador Dali was just a glimmer in his fathers eye.
0 internautes sur 1 ont trouvé ce commentaire utile 
Five Stars 13 juillet 2014
Par poetryfan - Publié sur
Format: Broché Achat vérifié
Great book on Spare, a must buy for fans of his art. Very well written by Baker too.
5 internautes sur 27 ont trouvé ce commentaire utile 
Depressing subject 5 mars 2014
Par Green Stone - Publié sur
Format: Broché Achat vérifié
This is a decent book, but it suffers the problem that it is about a depressing, unhealthy individual. The book does well in presenting a chronological account of Spare's life, replete with anecdotes and illustrations of his art, but the author simply takes a descriptive, surface view of Spare's art which I feel is too uncritical and unpsychological, and I believe the author could have done more to call into question the value of Magical and artistic "accomplishments" made at the expense of one's physical and mental health. As well, I haven't read anything about Austin Spare written by a woman, and considering the fact that Spare sexually fetishized elderly, ugly women, and that his art features naked women in bleak, empty and tormented landscapes where they seem out of place, it's my view that a feminine perspective on Spare's art is needed.

Austin Osman Spare is viewed by many as an important figure in the history of Magic in modern times, and he did develop techniques involving the use of Sigils in Magical practice, which are important to many today as Sigil Magic has become more widely known and practiced. However, it is difficult to read anything by or about Spare without becoming depressed, and I think the most healthy of us will feel the most repulsion about him.
Spare was a man always in poor health, who suffered from anemia and bronchitis, high blood pressure and gallstones before he died of a burst appendix. In the opinion of the last doctor who attended him, he had neglected himself for some time. He had a grey pallor, which led visitors to think he didn't eat well, and in fact it was said that he ate mostly out of tins, and milk bottles. He took little care about his surroundings, lived in a noisy and damp basement, and slept on piles of newspapers, and used newspapers for plates. He was impoverished for most of his life.

In addition to physical ill health, the ill health of his psyche is evident throughout his artwork and stories about his habits and interests that he shared with acquaintances. He was sexually drawn to ugly, elderly women, even deformed women, and much of his art carries the depressing quality of depicting naked human bodies and genitalia in a bleak, gloomy, empty, restricted atmosphere. Some of his art is intriguing and inspiring -- such as his "Alphabet of Desire", an invented Magical Alphabet, and some of my favorites among his work are the watercolor sketches shown in the book Two Grimoires -- but even the works I like best seem to carry a feeling of archival deadness, as if the creatures represented were only cariacatures of life, and their real existence was only as dusty museum specimens or taxidermist stuffings -- the figures, as stunningly realistic as they are portrayed, lack life in some significant way. This "dead" and dusty quality to the characters he portrays mirrors the grey pallor and neglect found in Spare's own personal life, as well as his apparent inability to experience the emotion of love.

There is a lot about sex -- a sad and unhealthy form of it -- in Spare's art and in his life, but there is no trace of the emotion of love anywhere in his life, nor in this book about his life. As an example...(pg 241) when one of his friends told Spare he was getting married, Spare's response was "an excited masturbatory gesture." This was not when Spare was a teenager, but when he was over the age of 60. Another of the more repulsive stories about Spare and his sexuality is given on page 219. THe author, PHil Baker, presents it as a "distinctive invention" that Spare made up the title "Giving LIfe to the Autistic by Virgin Earthware", as a term for his masturbating into a pottery vessel and burying the results at midnight.

THere are tales in the book about Spare's alleged powers as a Magician, his ability to summon rain from a clear sky, his bringing forth elemental powers...but I think the real Magic shows up in people's lives in their ability to attain physical and/or mental health, integration, love, closeness to the divine, and Spare had little such ability. He was careless and neglectful as to his own physical existence, demonstrating a certain contempt for the earthly life of the body, and its needs, and in light of these facts I could not impute to Spare any ability to honor the chthonic. Spare apparently did sigil work for health, but this also could not extract him from his own bad habits and self-neglect, or from his tormented, repulsive sexual habits and fantasies.

Spare's cryptic and obscurantist treatises on Kia and Zos may, on the surface, call to mind the spiritual truths about emptiness found in Buddhism and Eastern philosophies, but any casual glance at the life of Austin Osman Spare will reveal that his own experience was hardly transcendent and illuminated. When Spare says, (pg 226) "Personally, my experience of 'looking within' has been exactly like looking into an empty bucket.", I don't think we should be imputing a high, spiritual, transcendent experience of "the void" to this empty bucket.
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