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The Other Side

A Journey into Women, Art and the Spirit World

Jennifer Higgie



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Weidenfeld & Nicolson
11 April 2023
It's not so long ago that a woman's expressed interest in other realms would have ruined her reputation, or even killed her. And yet spiritualism, in various incarnations, has influenced numerous men - including lauded modernist artists such as Wassily Kandinsky, Piet Mondrian, Kazimir Malevich and Paul Klee - without repercussion. The fact that so many radical women artists of their generation - and earlier - also drank deeply from the same spiritual well has for too long been sorely neglected.

In THE OTHER SIDE, we explore the lives and work of a group of extraordinary women, from the twelfth-century mystic, composer and artist Hildegard of Bingen to the nineteenth-century English spiritualist Georgiana Houghton, whose paintings swirl like a cosmic Jackson Pollock; the early twentieth-century Swedish artist, Hilma af Klint, who painted with the help of her spirit guides and whose recent exhibition at New York's Guggenheim broke all attendance records; the 'Desert Transcendentalist', Agnes Pelton, who painted her visions beneath the vast skies of California; the Swiss healer, Emma Kunz, who used geometric drawings to treat her patients; and the British surrealist and occultist, Ithell Colquhoun, whose estate of more than 5,000 works recently entered the Tate gallery collection. While the individual work of these artists is unique, the women loosely shared the same goal: to communicate with, and learn from, other dimensions.

Weaving in and out of these myriad lives, sharing her own memories of otherworldly experiences, Jennifer Higgie discusses the solace of ritual, the gender exclusions of art history, the contemporary relevance of myth, the boom in alternative ways of understanding the world and the impact of spiritualism on feminism and contemporary art. A radical reappraisal of a marginalised group of artists, THE OTHER SIDE is an intoxicating blend of memoir, biography and art history.

Imprint:   Weidenfeld & Nicolson
Country of Publication:   United Kingdom
Dimensions:   Height: 238mm,  Width: 160mm,  Spine: 34mm
Weight:   565g
ISBN:   9781474623322
ISBN 10:   1474623328
Pages:   320
Publication Date:  
Audience:   General/trade ,  College/higher education ,  Professional and scholarly ,  ELT Advanced ,  Primary
Format:   Hardback
Publisher's Status:   Active

JENNIFER HIGGIE is a writer who studied painting at art school in Australia before moving to London. Previously the editor of frieze magazine, she was also the presenter of Bow Down, a podcast about women in art history. She is a screenwriter, the editor of a collection of writings on art and humour, The Artist's Joke, a novel, Bedlam, a children's book, There's Not One, and The Mirror and the Palette: Rebellion, Revolution and Resilience - 500 Years of Women's Self-Portraits.

Reviews for The Other Side: A Journey into Women, Art and the Spirit World

"In effervescent and atmospheric prose, Jennifer Higgie explores some of history's most innovative artists and their spiritual investigations into this realm and the next. I was entranced from start to finish, as she takes us on both a personal and artistic journey across time and across the globe. The Other Side is an exhilarating read -- KATY HESSEL, author of THE STORY OF ART WITHOUT MEN Invigorating . . . The Other Side [is] endlessly intriguing . . . I was enchanted * DAILY TELEGRAPH * The Other Side lit up my brain. A radical, fascinating exploration of art and the otherworldly, Higgie is an expert and erudite guide in this brilliant reclamation of female artists -- SINÉAD GLEESON, author of CONSTELLATIONS The Other Side is a colourful, varied look at the many artists and thinkers who have touched worlds beyond our own - and a necessary reconsideration of why they have all too often been ""brushed aside"" * PROSPECT * Wonderful . . . Higgie guides us through overlooked stories from the history of art and reveals the insights into the nature of imagination which reside there. Illuminating in every sense of the word -- JOHN HIGGS, author of WILLIAM BLAKE VS THE WORLD A rewarding and invigorating read * SYDNEY MORNING HERALD * An entrancing look at formerly neglected artists who navigated thresholds between this world and the next, and a crucial exploration of realms formerly dismissed. Elegantly expanded my thinking on the eternal mystery of where art comes from -- JENNIFER LUCY ALLAN, author of THE FOGHORN'S LAMENT A majestic account of the ways in which women's art has developed in response to spiritual experience. Higgie traces a compelling route through an alternative history that attends to the astonishing work of female artists whose practice was deeply connected to spiritualism and the occult, and which was often far ahead of its time, anticipating practices and modes of modernist abstraction . . . endlessly surprising and ambitious -- Stephanie Bishop * THE MONTHLY * Jennifer Higgie is the most splendid of guides on this enthralling journey of a book. With tremendous intelligence, sensitivity and a receptivity nearly equal to that of her subjects, she leads us through a gallery of remarkable women artists whose dialogue with other realms became the font of their creativity as well as a sanctuary. Excellent, inspiring and transformative -- CHLOE ARIDJIS, author of SEA MONSTERS"

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