Refiguring the Spiritual: Beuys, Barney, Turrell, Goldsworthy

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Columbia University Press, Mar 27, 2012 - Religion - 272 pages

Mark C. Taylor provocatively claims that contemporary art has lost its way. With the art market now mirroring the art of finance, many artists create works solely for the purpose of luring investors and inspiring trade among hedge funds and private equity firms. When art is commodified, corporatized, and financialized, it loses its critical edge and is transformed into a financial instrument calculated to maximize profitable returns.

Joseph Beuys, Matthew Barney, James Turrell, and Andy Goldsworthy are artists who differ in style, yet they all defy the trends that have diminished art's potential in recent decades. They understand that art is a transformative practice drawing inspiration directly and indirectly from ancient and modern, Eastern and Western forms of spirituality. For Beuys, anthroposophy, alchemy, and shamanism drive his multimedia presentations; for Barney and Goldsworthy, Celtic mythology informs their art; and for Turrell, Quakerism and Hopi myth and ritual shape his vision.

Eluding traditional genres and classifications, these artists combine spiritually inspired styles and techniques with material reality, creating works that resist merging space into cyberspace in a way that overwhelms local contexts with global networks. Their art reminds us of life's irreducible materiality and humanity's inescapability of place. For them, art is more than just an object or process—it is a vehicle transforming human awareness through actions echoing religious ritual. By lingering over the extraordinary work of Beuys, Barney, Turrell, and Goldsworthy, Taylor not only creates a novel and personal encounter with their art but also opens a new understanding of overlooked spiritual dimensions in our era.

 

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Contents

1 FINANCIALIZATION OF ART 1
1
LIVING ART 16
16
Concerning the Spiritual in Art 21
21
Art InForming Life 35
35
Fat 41
41
3 CREATIVE MORPHOGENESIS 44
44
0 45
45
Figuring 0
47
The Emergence 117
117
Burial 125
125
Screening Vision 128
128
After the Origin 139
139
5 CURE OF GROUND 146
146
Clearing 148
148
Flow 156
156
Cure 175
175

Metamorphosis 53
53
Forgery 73
73
Cycles Without Circles 93
93
Eschatology 98
98
4 CREATION OF THE WORLD 102
102
Desert Visions 104
104
6 AFTER THOUGHT 180
180
Notes 193
193
Credits and Permissions 207
207
Index 213
213
Copyright

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About the author (2012)

Mark C. Taylor is professor of religion, chair of the Department of Religion, and codirector of the Institute for Religion, Culture, and Public Life at Columbia University. He is the author of more than twenty-five books, including, most recently, Crisis on Campus: A Bold Plan for Reforming Our Colleges and Universities; Field Notes from Elsewhere: Reflections on Dying and Living; and After God.

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