The Other Side: A Journey into Women, Art and the Spirit World by Jennifer Higgie / ISBN 9781474623322 / 312-page hardback from Weidenfeld & Nicolson (UK)
"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
"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
"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
A radical reappraisal of a marginalised group of artists, this book is an intoxicating blend of memoir, biography and art history.
Jennifer Higgie’s book explores the notion that 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 also drank deeply from the same spiritual well has for too long been sorely neglected. This compelling book examines 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 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 Tate’s 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.