Paul Laffoley: The Visionary Point
1:30 PM13:30

Paul Laffoley: The Visionary Point

Paul Laffoley (1935-2015) was a dreamer.  That is what he was called by his mentor, the visionary architect Frederick Kiesler (1890-1965), who he met while in his mid-twenties and under whom he apprenticed for about a year in New York.  Laffoley was never able to determine if Kiesler's remark was a compliment or an insult, but it is perhaps no coincidence that his career as an artist began with a dream.  In July of 1961, after having been subjected to multiple sessions of electric-shock therapy for a condition of catatonia (a state of lethargy caused by a mental disorder), he dreamt that he attended an art exhibition containing sculptures that were so precise in their expression that he was overwhelmed.  "All the forms I've been thinking about or could think about for years and years to come," he later recalled, "are expressed in this work."  He would spend the next fifty years creating works of art that attempted to approach the clarity of vision expressed in those sculptures, paintings that are so complex, transdisciplinary, theoretical and all-encompassing in their message that they are best described-like the architecture of Frederick Kiesler-as visionary.  

IMAGE: Paul Laffoley, The Visionary Point, 1970, Oil, Acrylic and hand applied, vinyl letters on canvas, 73 ½ x 73 ½ in. / 185.4 x 185.4 cm

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Vestiges & Verse: Notes from the Newfangled Epic
to May 27

Vestiges & Verse: Notes from the Newfangled Epic

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The exhibition unites more than two hundred and fifty works by twenty-one seminal and recently discovered self-taught artists including rare manuscripts, series of drawings, illustrated notebooks with coded texts, expanding cartography and journals providing an art historical and pluridisciplinary perspective on the mechanisms behind visual storytelling. Works and original journals by Paul Laffoley will be on view with contributed notes by Elyse Benenson.  Curated by Valerie Rousseau, the exhibition has been co-produced with the LaM, Lille Metropole Musee d'art modern, d'art contemporain et d'art brut, Villeneuve d'Ascq, France.  


Paul Laffoley is also the subject of a recent monograph published by the University of Chicago Press entitled The Essential Paul Laffoley.

IMAGE: Paul Laffoley, Alchemy: The Telenomic Process of the Universe, 1973, Oil, acrylic, ink, and hand applied lettering on canvas, 73 1/2 x 73 1/2 in. / 185.4 x 185.4 cm.

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The Great Mystery Show
to Sep 7

The Great Mystery Show

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American Visionary Art Museum

Baltimore, Maryland


"Do not grow old, no matter how long you live. Never cease to stand like curious children before the Great Mystery into which we were born." - Albert Einstein

Welcome All Ye Passionately Curious! 

The Great Mystery Show beckons you—each the star of your own personal mystery show—to our American Visionary Art Museum's newest, wholly original, art exhibition. From psychics to physicists, The Great Mystery Show artfully peels away the veil of the unknown, playfully exploring mystery as that one secret power behind great art, science, and pursuit of the sacred. One part lively fun house, two parts cosmic dream lab, the exhibition weaves the creative investigations of 44 visionary artists, research scientists, astronauts, mystics, and philosophers into one grand-scale exploration of mystery that's 100% devoted to inspiring that ever-questioning "sleuth for the truth" in each of us. No "alternative facts here"—just a wildly visual exaltation of the strangeness and wonder of Life itself.

Our choice of Mystery as a communal focus celebrates the fact that we humans start out life as little question machines, i.e. "Why is the sky blue, Mommy?" Even Einstein declared, "I have no special talent. I am only passionately curious." As we grow and age, our hardwired need for answers and meaning progresses—"Is there life after death?" or "Why do terrible things happen to good people?" Here, Einstein offers more sage solace, "God does not play dice with the Universe"—his assertion that life is not random, nor casually conceived, nor without purpose. 

Mystery holds the door open to human imagination, inspiring our fascination with whodunit-style film and books and theological and scientific inquiry. In a time of so much focus on fear and doom, inventor Michael Faraday reminds us, "Nothing is too wonderful to be true."

May your life's mystery unfold in ways of wonder, greater peace and joy! 

Heartfelt thanks to all our visionary artists, art lenders, generous sponsors, our friends at the NASA Space Telescope Science Institute, The Edward Gorey Charitable Trust, and all of AVAM's amazingly wondrous staff and curatorial assistant, Anna Gulyavskaya. -Rebecca Hoffberger, founder, director and curator. 

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The Museum of Everything
to Apr 2

The Museum of Everything

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Museum of Old and New Art

Tasmania, Australia


We have asked The Museum of Everything to come and occupy Mona. But that — like everything, always, everywhere — is up for debate. Is it an occupation, or a collaboration?

The Museum of Everything is a traveling institution, which opened in London in 2009. Its purpose is to advocate for the visibility of art that falls outside the confines of the art world proper; the work of ordinary people, working far (literally or otherwise) from the cultural metropolis.

That word, ‘ordinary’, is an interesting one. Because oftentimes, the art that we are talking about — let’s call it the art of everyone — happens to be made by people who can only truthfully be described asextraordinary.

These artists don’t have degrees, but they might have visions or compulsions; they are transcendent scientists, self-taught architects, and citizen inventors; sometimes, they are dedicated followers of personal belief systems, or producing art from inside a hospital or prison. Some create their own visual folklore to sit alongside (or challenge) established histories of culture and place. ‘Our museum stretches, I hope, the possibility of who has the right to be considered an artist,’ says founder James Brett. But of course, not everybody is an artist. The collection is comprised of the passionate fringe, the outliers who concentrate the human propensity to make and create. They are simultaneously different, because that kind of intensity and ability is not available to us all (and especially not in the absence of the usual art-world rewards, such as money and cultural cachet), and yet they are also somehow the same, more familiar to us than the big art-world names will ever be.

This extra/ordinary tension complicates the category ‘art’, in its deepest sense. Is art typical, universal, even biological — or is it exceptional? Can we place elite art, that which is clearly tied to the desire for social status, next to apparently private forms of creative expression, and call them by the same name?

To answer these questions, as well as the important social-justice ones that accompany them, you must first widen your concept of art. It stops being about insider/outsider, us and them, and becomes instead a big, wobbly, cumbersome carryall; and once ‘everything’ is included, nothing is, and so the whole problem of terminology and definitions just dissolves, until you’re left with nothing but an action. The will to make thrives everywhere, even in the most unlikely places. That’s what our friends at The Museum of Everything are trying to show. And we want to help them, in the form of this exhibition. The occupation is an invitation.

What you will find, when you come, is a jolly fine collection, cor blimey, of drawings, paintings, sculptures, photography, environments and assemblies. There will be wondrous samples of the Art Brut / Outsider Art canon (oh, the irony) as well as the ‘newly discovered’ (as our British imperial overlords would have it), alongside work from studios for artists with disabilities. We’re excited. This stuff matters, in a social-justice sense and in an art-lovers sense (we’ve been missing out!). But also, we empathise — being from Tassie and all — with the whole outsider/insider thing. Specifically, the problem: what happens when the outsider becomes the institution; the exception, the rule? Is it even a problem?

Both our museums—that of Everything, and of Old and New Art — want to learn, in the most human of ways: by doing. ‘The hand is the cutting edge of the mind,’ says Joseph Bronowski. Art, in the end, is a behavior, something we can’t help but do — or at least, it should be. The best way to test its mettle is to clear away the extra stuff, the art-world beatifications, the labels and classifications, to see what’s left. You might just find it’s everything.

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As Above, So Below: Portals, Visions, Spirits, & Mystics
to Aug 31

As Above, So Below: Portals, Visions, Spirits, & Mystics

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The Irish Museum of Modern Art

Dublin, Ireland


Featuring an exciting selection of modern masterworks and landmark contemporary art works by Hilma af Klint, Wassily Kandinsky, Steve McQueen, Bruce Nauman, Sigmar Polke, Cameron - many being shown for the first time in Ireland - and new commissions created specifically for this exhibition by Linder, Matt Copson, Stephan Doitschinoff, Alan Butler and others. 

Opening with a Vedic spiritual blessing at 12.15pm on Thursday 13 April 2017, IMMA presents one of its most ambitious and compelling shows exploring how the spiritual endures in our everyday lives. In particular, As Above, So Below considers the role played by certain spiritualist and alternative doctrines, such as the occult or mysticism, in the creation of abstract painting from its origins to the present digital age.

The arc of this exhibition spans a hundred years from the abstract masterworks of Kandinsky, af Klint and Kupka to contemporary work by Steve McQueen and Bruce Nauman and new commissions by Alan Butler and Linder among others. As Above, So Below resists becoming a comprehensive survey that traces the role of art and spirituality however. Instead, it presents perspectives on spirituality from a range of unique viewpoints in over 200 works, many of which have never been seen in Ireland before. It extends beyond the gallery space with new works made specifically for the IMMA site and a series of performances, events, talks and film screenings taking place during the exhibition. The exhibition’s historical gaze has a particular focus on female artists from the last century whose work remained uncovered until recently in the now shifting narrative of art history. 

The title, As Above, So Below, echoes an often quoted saying, employed by artists, poets, writers and astrologers alike, as a means to describe and understand the mysterious but familiar world around us. To look at spirituality in such secular times is a provocation in itself, and the exhibition traces and questions the genesis of deep religious, mystical and occult beliefs that continue to shape the ideas of contemporary artists today. Writing in the 1960s, the critic Susan Sontag claimed that, “Every era has to reinvent the project of ‘spirituality’ for itself”, and through this exhibition IMMA asks what the project of spirituality looks like in 2017.

Transcending the limitations of what is traditionally perceived as ‘spiritual’, this exhibition embraces the occult, the otherworld, human consciousness, mysticism and ritual, creating a space to reflect and explore these gateways, or portals, to wonder.

As Above, So Below resists becoming a comprehensive survey and is presented instead as a series of thematic chapters that each explore a different aspect of spirituality. The exhibition extends beyond the gallery space with new works made specifically for the IMMA site and a series of performances, events, talks and film screenings taking place during the exhibition.

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