Art Movements: Visionary art
is art that purports to transcend the physical world and portray a wider vision of awareness including spiritual or mysticalthemes, or is based in such experiences.
The American Visionary Art Museum defines Visionary art as “….art produced by self-taught individuals, usually without formal training, whose works arise from an innate personal vision that revels foremost in the creative act itself.” It goes on to say that visionary art is a product of an inner process, and may not even be thought of as art by its creator; it also differentiates Visionary art from Folk art.
Alexander Beiner, host of Visionary Artists Podcast, has proposed an alternative definition, suggesting that “Visionary Art is any art that seeks to represent or explore mystical experience. As such, it lies at the nexus between the sublime and the existential. Visionary art must contain an element of metaphysical Otherness and often references qualities associated with altered states of consciousness, including but not limited to ego-death, entoptic imagery, mythic archetypes and spiritual symbolism.”
Both trained and self-taught (or outsider) artists have, and continue to create visionary works. Many visionary artists are actively engaged in spiritual practices, and some have drawn inspiration from hallucinogenic intoxication.
Walter Schurian, professor at the University of Münster, is quick to point out the difficulties in describing visionary art as if it were a discrete genre, since “it is difficult to know where to start and where to stop. Recognized trends have all had their fantastic component, so demarcation is apt to be fuzzy.”
Despite this ambiguity, there does seem to be emerging some definition to what constitutes the contemporary visionary art ‘scene’ and which artists can be considered especially influential. Contemporary visionary artists count Hieronymous Bosch, William Blake, Morris Graves (of the Pacific Northwest School of Visionary Art), Emil Bisttram, and Gustave Moreauamongst their antecedents. Symbolism, Surrealism and Psychedelic art are also direct precursors to contemporary visionary art.
Schools and organizations
The Vienna School of Fantastic Realism, which includes Ernst Fuchs and Arik Brauer, is also to be considered an important technical and philosophical catalyst in its strong influence upon the contemporary visionary culture. It may also be considered the European version, with the names being interchangeable.
The Society for the Art of Imagination, founded by Brigid Marlin serves as an important portal for visionary art events. More recently, a new wave of visionary artists collaborate under the umbrella of Lila, Beinart, Visionary Revue, and Pod Collective which function as modern cooperatives involved in self-publishing and promotion of visionary artists through the internet and via festivals such as Burning Man and Boom Festival, and exhibition/ritual spaces such as Synergenesis and the Interdimensional Art Movement.