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The Mission of Art [Paperback]

Alex Grey , Ken Wilber
5.0 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (6 customer reviews)
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Book Description

March 13 2001
This is an inspirational book about art's power to bring about personal catharsis and spiritual awakening. Alex Grey's reflections combine his extensive knowledge of art history and his own first-hand experiences in creating art on the boundaries of consciousness. Included are practical techniques and exercises that can be used to explore the spiritual dimension of art. Challenging and thought-provoking, The Mission of Art will be enjoyed by everyone who has ever contemplated the deeper purpose of artistic expression.

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Product Description

From Publishers Weekly

In this Technicolor manifesto calling for a renewed spiritual content in modern art, Grey argues that contemporary artists have lost touch with the search for transcendence that infused the work of such masters as Michelangelo, van Gogh, Pollock and Kahlo. In a freewheeling narrative, Grey compares what he sees as the materialism and moral irresponsibility of most contemporaryart to his own creative endeavors, which draw on meditation, visualization, shamanic drumming, Taoism, yoga and Tibetan Buddhism. The book is bursting with his own mystical paintings and drawings, depicting floating cosmic eyes, the soul leaving the body of a dying person, haloed skulls, metaphysical thought-diagrams, human torsos lit from within by chakras or psychic energy centers. If this sounds reminiscent of the psychedelic 1960s, that may be because, as Grey freely admits, "sacramental" hallucinogens like LSD and mescaline have been a source of inspiration for him since the mid-1970s. He's found equal inspiration, however, in the works of Blake, Kandinsky and the drawings he made of Michelangelo's sculptures and paintings during a 1994 trip to Italy. Grey acknowledges a big debt to transpersonal psychology, the study of manifold dimensions of human consciousness, a science whose leading philosopher, Wilber, contributes the hyperbolic foreword ("Alex Grey might be the most significant artist alive"). As a hodgepodge of art-historical analysis, social commentary and spiritual philosophizing, the book is so idiosyncratic, and sometimes so preachy, that many readers will find it difficult to penetrate. But Grey's insistence that art should be a revelatory and healing force in our culture should resonate with artists in virtually any discipline.

Copyright 1998 Cahners Business Information, Inc.

--This text refers to an out of print or unavailable edition of this title.

Review

"Alex Grey's mission is nothing less than the transformation of our 'depleted world' through art that supports the evolution of human consciousness. He discusses the lives and work of artists throughout history, and his own journey, as examples of the higher mission of art, and encourages others to break out of the prevailing mood of irony and cynicism and create work with the heart and spirit."— Yoga Journal



"An inspirational text for artists and for everyone else who has ever had a glimpse of art's power for personal catharsis and spiritual awakening."— Branches of Light



"Grey's insistence that art should be a revelatory and healing force in our culture should resonate with artists in virtually any discipline."— Publishers Weekly

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5.0 out of 5 stars A Transformative Art? June 23 2003
Format:Paperback
In The Mission of Art, Alex Grey shows that his prodigious artistic gifts are moored in intellectual depth. Grey discusses art history, aesthetics, mysticism, religion, postmodernism, and processes of art reception with equal facility. This kind of writing is a rare treat. Only a small number of American artists have articulated their ideas in writing and fewer have done so with as much skill and alacrity. Grey's writing is reminiscent of G. Albert Aurier, the French Symbolist critic who shared Grey's mystical inclinations and his views about the spiritual and moral potential of art. Grey believes that mystically inspired art can in turn inspire its viewers to transcend today's oppressive consensual values of materialism, utilitarianism, and consumerism, and become aware of more authentic spiritual realities. There are a couple of factual inaccuracies, perhaps due to exaggeration or oversight, as where Grey states that mystical art was virtually absent in late nineteenth century Europe (p.37) and that Van Gogh labored in "complete obscurity" (p.90). Many prominent artists of the late nineteenth century French Symbolist movement were deeply inspired by neo-Platonic mysticism. Though Van Gogh never achieved material success, he was well known and respected by some major artists of his time. Aurier praised Van Gogh's art in a published review shortly before the latter's death. As the world seems to plummet ever deeper into eco-devastation and strife, to continue to hold out faith in general processes of human spiritual "evolution" which are aided by art, as Grey does, appears to demand ever more credulity. In my view, one can now realistically expect mystical art only to be a source of some personal inspiration and an exemplar of humanity's highest but tragically failed ideals. Read more ›
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5.0 out of 5 stars The Mission of Art June 13 2003
Format:Paperback
In The Mission of Art, Alex Grey shows that his prodigious artistic gifts are moored in intellectual depth. Grey discusses art history, aesthetics, mysticism, religion, postmodernism, and processes of art reception with equal facility. This kind of writing is a rare treat. Only a small number of American artists have articulated their ideas in writing and fewer have done so with as much skill and alacrity. Grey's writing is reminiscent of G. Albert Aurier, the French Symbolist critic who shared Grey's mystical inclinations and his views about the spiritual and moral potential of art. Grey believes that mystically inspired art can in turn inspire its viewers to transcend today's oppressive consensual values of materialism, utilitarianism, and consumerism, and become aware of more authentic spiritual realities. There are a couple of factual inaccuracies, perhaps due to exaggeration or oversight, as where Grey states that mystical art was virtually absent in late nineteenth century Europe (p.37) and that Van Gogh labored in "complete obscurity" (p.90). Many prominent artists of the late nineteenth century French Symbolist movement were deeply inspired by neo-Platonic mysticism. Though Van Gogh never achieved material success, he was well known and respected by some major artists of his time. Aurier praised Van Gogh's art in a published review shortly before the latter's death.
As the world seems to plummet ever deeper into eco-devastation and strife, to continue to hold out faith in general processes of human spiritual "evolution" which are aided by art, as Grey does, appears to demand ever more credulity. In my view, one can now realistically expect mystical art only to be a source of some personal inspiration and an exemplar of humanity's highest but tragically failed ideals.
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5.0 out of 5 stars From Darkness To Light, Guided By The Muse Feb. 28 2002
Format:Paperback
Since the fin-de-siecle, artists have had a reputation for egoism and perfidy that has been glamorized and often excused for their supposed insight into society. For Grey, merely being an artist is not an excuse to act without regard for human beings in the supposed pursuit of beauty. He details how, initially, his art came from his own dark impulses, self-loathing, and power trips which would have led him to ruin--with the possibility of being remembered in a celebratory light anyway. Through changes in attitude, the love of his muse then colleague then wife Allyson, and respectful experiences with ethnobotanicals, he underwent a profound transformation whose noble fruits are seen in his art. He details these aspects of his life and his thoughts on art as a spiritual practice with practical advice on developing the consciousness that channels energies both dark and light into extraordinary works that benefit all sentient beings. It should be read alongside his portfolio TRANSFIGURATIONS as the two illustrate this process he underwent both visually and in textual form. The drawings in The Mission of Art are just as incredible as any of his spectacular paintings, especially the treatment of Beethoven in the style of a Tibetan thangka and his mindmaps that are throughout the pages. I came out of this with a profound sense of vindication for my own artistic endeavors and I hope it serves the same for any who wonder whether their art can mean something.
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