Stranger in strange lands

Pasatiempo - - PASATIEMPO -

The his­tory of modernist art in the United States de­pended, in part, on the cre­ative re­sponses of artists to un­fa­mil­iar en­vi­rons, as was the case with many of the mod­ernists who ended up in New Mexico. But decades be­fore, Euro­pean artists set a prece­dent for for­eign en­coun­ters. In the 1920s, Ger­man painter and an­thro­pol­o­gist Wal­ter Spies ex­pa­tri­ated to Bali. In­spired by the cor­re­spon­dences between con­tem­po­rary and tra­di­tional art practices, Spies in­flu­enced a gen­er­a­tion of young artists in Bali, though his con­tri­bu­tions are lit­tle known in Amer­ica. John Stow­ell’s new mono­graph Wal­ter Spies: A Life in Art, is a show­case for Spies’ hal­lu­ci­na­tory, vi­sion­ary art and a tes­ta­ment to his legacy in the arts of Bali. On the cover is Spies’ 1929 oil paint­ing Work­ing the Sawahs.

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