Religious and Spiritual Movements and the Visual Arts


From the first studies in the 1960s on the influence of Theosophy on key modern artists, such as Kandinsky and Mondrian, to well attended conferences in the twenty-first century, academia and the art communities increasingly realized new religious movements (NRMs)’s crucial influence on the visual arts. For the purposes of this project, religious and spiritual movements are broadly defined, including esoteric and spiritual movements that do not consider themselves as religious and broader currents of spirituality that do not necessarily constitute an organized “movement.” These movements start with the new Christian and esoteric groups of the eighteenth and nineteenth centuries, such as the Swedenborgians or Christian Science. For this project, visual arts include painting, sculpture, architecture, and contemporary performance art. The WRSP special project presents profiles of both NRMs that have significantly influenced the visual arts and individual artists in whose career connections with one or more NRMs, or with new spiritual currents in general, have played a key role.









Sallie Ann Glassman (Catherine Wessinger, Loyola University New Orleans)

Teofil Ociepka (Karolina Maria Hess and Małgorzata Alicja Dulska, Jagiellonian University)

Madge Gill (Daniel Wojcik, University of Oregon)

Hilma af Klint (Marco Pasi, Universiteit van Amsterdam)

Georgiana Houghton (Marco Pasi, Universiteit van Amsterdam)

Akseli Gallen-Kallela (Nina Kokkinen, University of Turku)


For further information, contact
Massimo Introvigne, New Religious Movements and the Visual Arts WRSP Project Director.

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Splash Page Image: “Evolution” by Piet Mondrian.


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