color Beyond Kandinsky: Response to Max and Charlene

The year 2011 marks the centennial of the publication of Wassily Kandinsky's classic text, On the Spiritual in Art. Inspired by this anniversary, this project set out to explore the place of the spiritual in contemporary art and to propose a challenge to the current devaluation of the inner life that prevails within the art world in our market-driven era.

Beginning on Wednesday, March 30th, 2011, a ten-day virtual symposium moderated by Taney Roniger and Eric Zechman was held in this forum. The symposium closed on the evening of Friday, April 8th. Below is the full record of the proceedings.

Panelists invited to participate were: Suzanne Anker, Laura Battle, Connie Beckley, Anney Bonney, Deirdre Boyle, Nathaniel Dorsky, Jeff Edwards, James Elkins, Max Gimblett, Tom Huhn, Atta Kim, Roger Lipsey, Enrique Martinez Celaya, Joseph Nechvatal, Daniel Siedell, Charlene Spretnak, David Levi Strauss, Alan Wanzenberg, and Pawel Wojtasik. For participant biographies and other project details, please visit our site:


March 30th–April 1st: Session I: The Spiritual Then and Now

April 2nd–April 3rd: Session II: The Changing Shape of Art

April 4th-5th: Session III: Art and Its Audience

April 6th–April 7th: Session IV: The Artist in Society

April 8th: Conclusions


Wednesday, March 30, 2011

Response to Max and Charlene

I’m grateful to Max for introducing the Asian dimension into our conversation and to Charlene for bringing up the legacy of Theosophy. Both are so important to an understanding of “the spiritual then and now.” I wonder, Charlene, if you can tell us if the movement you describe away from *either* immanence or transcendence alone in favor of something else—some more viable and healthy alternative to the dualism—is now the prevalent thinking in religious studies departments within academia. I would suspect that it is, but from my vantage point at least, the art world has not entirely caught on to this. This may be one reason for the current suspicion of the spiritual within the art world—i.e., that to many people the spiritual is still manifestly tied to the realm of elsewhere and otherwise and thus wholly unrelated to matters of “real life.”

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