MUST SEE - January 16, 2016
"It’s said that when a culture feels imperiled, it turns to the mystical for solace. That sense of desperation is nowhere apparent in this stunning group show of occult-inflected works, put together by Pam Grossman, who, for example, manages to adroitly pair up the sensuous witchcraft chic of Carol Bove’s sculptural Wunderkammer with the unsettlingly tender, turn-of-the-twentieth-century magickal watercolors of Major-General J.F.C. Fuller: 'artificial moonlight' pioneer and professional British Fascist."
ART IN AMERICA
Exhibitions: The Lookout - February 4, 2016
"...Though many key modern artists were hardly shy about voicing their enthusiasm for the occult, art historians and curators, working within Enlightenment disciplines, have had a harder time taking seriously esoteric spirituality. 'Language of the Birds' feels like a necessary corrective in this regard. Curator Pam Grossman, who is both a historian and a 'student of magickal practice,' has presented a deeply felt and extensively researched exhibition that includes work by more than 60 artists, many of whom could be equally identified as magicians themselves...[T]his broad presentation provokes healthy uncertainty about contemporary art and its boundaries..."
BEDFORD + BOWERY
A Little Bird Told Me: Aleister Crowley and Genesis P-Orridge in Occult Art Show - January 22nd, 2016
"Even now, when dabbling in the occult has become morally ambiguous rather than universally derided, the work shown at NYU Steinhardt’s gallery is far from ordinary...The closest thing to a universally communicable history of the occult, then, are images like the ones found at Language of the Birds."
Occult Arts a Big Success in NYC - January 23, 2016
"If you're interested in magic, surrealism, abstraction, the peculiar, or simply miss Halloween, make every pact necessary with every discarnate spirit you can to witness the stellar glory that is Language of The Birds."
Delving into the Shadowy World of Occult Art - January 27, 2016
"'Language of the Birds'" features artists historical and contemporary, whose work converges at the nexus of the real world and one potentially beyond, beneath, or humming all around us...'Language' places contemporary and historical artists in conversation, sometimes directly or indirectly. The juxtaposition of various spaces and perspectives illuminates the evolution of a system of symbols and beliefs that dates back before recorded history. It's interesting to see the way past and present converge in this alternate realm, moving at a pace all its own."
Recreating the Magic Circle of a Surrealist Seriously into the Occult - January 26, 2016
"In Language of the Birds: Occult and Art, now on view at New York University’s 80WSE Gallery, [Kurt Seligmann's] magic circle is again recreated, this time by contemporary esoteric artist Jesse Bransford alongside a photograph of the 1948 event...The show is an impressive assembly of some of the most influential artists to interpret the occult, such as Aleister Crowley with his trance portraiture and Paul Laffoley with his painted guides to metaphysics, as well as artists less often associated with magic, like Kiki Smith and Francesco Clemente...In Language of the Birds, [Seligmann's] spirit is temporarily resurrected in New York City, like a phantom conjured through a magic circle."
ArtRx NYC Pick - January 12, 2016
"The past century of art has a thread of magic winding through its visuals, whether the trance portraiture of occultist Aleister Crowley or the film rituals of Kenneth Anger. Language of the Birds: Occult and Art at NYU’s 80WSE Gallery examines the influence of the esoteric on the work of over 60 artists, ranging from the overtly metaphysical paintings of the recently departed Paul Laffoley to the more subdued mysticism of Kiki Smith. Curated by Pam Grossman of Phantasmaphile, the exhibition coincides with February’s Occult Humanities Conference at NYU, which will further explore alchemy, spiritualism, witchcraft, and other occult influences on art."
THE NEW YORKER
Goings On About Town - February 1, 2016
"More than five dozen artists in this stargazing, soothsaying show share an interest in the dark arts. Some, such as Brion Gysin and the Los Angeles mystic known as Cameron, find real elegance and delicacy in the world of magic; others, including the sculptors Kiki Smith and Carol Bove, employ spiritual signs and characters to critical ends."
THE NEW YORK TIMES
What to See in New York Art Galleries This Week - February 5, 2016
"...[I]ntellectually fascinating exhibition...The most compelling pieces are by artists no longer living, like Paul Laffoley (1935–2015), whose Pop-style painting 'Astrological Ouroboros' (1965) depicts signs of the zodiac encircled by a snake biting its own tail. A dreamlike painting by the Argentine-born French Surrealist Leonor Fini (1907–1996), called 'Le Carrefour d’Hecate' (1977–78), envisions five spectral women in a dark, empty corridor. (Hecate is a goddess of magic.) Exactingly rendered in shades of gray by the British Surrealist and Mexican expatriate Leonora Carrington (1917–2011), 'The Conjuror' (from about 1950) represents a sorcerer with a diamond-shaped head and a four-armed pet monkey. Especially intriguing are small paintings of hermetic signs and symbols made with a fine, miniaturist touch in 1909-10 by Maj. Gen. J. F. C. Fuller, a British fascist and mystic."
Strange Magic: Why occult-based art is about to cross your radar (if it hasn’t already) - January 14, 2016
"...[W]hat makes Language of the Birds stand apart from similar shows that might be perceived of as fashionable is its emphasis on identity politics. In the press release, Grossman employs the idea of 'slippage' — a term first applied by Harvard scholar Homi Bhabha to oppressed artists who subconsciously mimic their oppressor — as a way of explaining why these particular artists, who also happen to be devoted spiritualists, have been overlooked so long by the establishment. Simply put: their work repelled even as it sought a stable audience; which informs us now that an open mind and sincerity of purpose eventually pays off."
Language of the Birds Exhibition at New York University - January 26, 2016
"Magicians and artists have long embraced the visual language of occultism with its tantalizing promise of hidden meaning lurking just below the surface. Judging from the capacity crowd queuing out the door for the Language of the Birds opening reception this frigid January evening, everyone here loves the mystery of occult art...The exhibition Language of the Birds manages the seemingly impossible task of representing the breadth of occult art in the past century through a selection of 88 works currently on display at New York University’s 80WSE Gallery...The exhibit also honors Greenwich Village’s reputation as a bohemian and artistic epicenter by featuring an array of local visionaries."