Stranger in strange lands
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.