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  • Welcome to 3 Minute Art History. I'm Mead McLean. Today's Lesson: Austin Osman Spare.

  • As best I can figure, Austin Osman Spare [30 December 1886 - 15 May 1956] was the first

  • Surrealist. The word didn't really exist when he was starting out, but he was already doing

  • work that dealt with the same subjects in a similar way. I don't think he gets grouped

  • with them because he was and is too weird. He started out going to the Royal College

  • of Art, and his dad submitted a couple of his early works to the Royal Academy Summer

  • Show, which gave him some early notoriety. At a young age, he met a witch who introduced

  • him to a personal style of magic, which he developed into Chaos Magic, wherein a practitioner

  • writes a statement of intent, converts it into a sigil or image, meditates until the

  • mind silences, then destroys the sigil, forgetting it afterwards.

  • His most developed images are his Sidereal Portraits. He would take printed images of

  • celebrities, look at them at an angle, then paint them on this angle. The effect is as

  • if they were pulled and distorted, yet retain the dimensionality he was able to create with

  • his academic background. During World War I, he was assigned to draw

  • images of the battlefields. Having survived that, he came back to the UK, where he lived

  • a modest to poor existence, keeping open house in his flat and selling drawings for as little

  • as 2GBP. He published a text called Automatic Drawing

  • in 1916, but was doing automatic drawings as early as 1900. The technique was either

  • picked up or discovered independently by the Surrealists a bit later. Andre Breton published

  • The First Manifesto of Surrealism in 1924, where he mentions automatic writing. The idea

  • of the technique is to turn off one's conscious mind, allowing the hand to draw freely without

  • influence. As the marks are made, certain images appear and are then developed into

  • more polished images or figures. Spare wrote of waking up at nights with his hand moving

  • over his sketchbook, drawing while asleep, perhaps for hours.

  • AOS certainly deserves some attention, particularly if you're interested in the Occult, Surrealism,

  • or Experimental music. He's been an influence on artists such as Throbbing Gristle, Coil,

  • Psychic TV, Val Denham, and Genesis P. Orridge. My name is Mead McLean, and this has been

  • 3 Minute Art History.

Welcome to 3 Minute Art History. I'm Mead McLean. Today's Lesson: Austin Osman Spare.

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Austin Osman Spare - 3 Minute Art History

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    Joey Chung posted on 2017/05/17
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