Esoteric Characteristics of Modern Art (2022)

“Fair is foul, and foul is fair” said the witches of Macbeth (Act 1, Scene 1). Centuries later, referring to beauty, Picasso stated: “This is a word that does not have any meaning for me.” (1) Modern art disengages itself, therefore, from beauty and speaks a different language. Many naive persons imagine they can understand and appreciate modern art following the criteria of common sense. This is a mistake.
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Surrealist Miro called for the release of subconscious to show contempt for traditional beauty
An enormous quantity of ink has been used to write justifications and eulogies of modern art from the Catholic point of view. Although much has been written, nothing has been said because either the critics do not understand what they are seeing and saying or they understand the premises of modern art but are intentionally obscure not to reveal its full agenda. Indeed, those initiated into its occult purposes are well aware of the inroads the Revolution has made in the artistic sector but do not want to unveil it to the eyes of the public.The role of true art

Beauty is an attribute of being. Truth, goodness and beauty are essential attributes of being. These attributes are inter-related, that is, what is true is also good and beautiful, what is good is true and beautiful, and what is beautiful is good and true. Since everything that exists is ontologically true, beauty should appear more often than it does now in our creation polluted by evil and sin.

God created us in beauty insofar as He created us in being. At the end of His work of creation He saw that everything was beautiful and good (Gen 1:31). Without the sins of the Angels and men, without this change in the divine order, error, evil and ugliness would have no practical meaning.

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God created the world in beauty and order
The order and harmony of universe have a perennial beauty. Beauty is not supposed to appear by chance, but would be present in everything if the original plan of God had been followed. There are different types of beauties that correspond to the different kinds of being: the physical, intellectual, moral and divine beings. The role of art should be to reveal the essential attributes of being as much as possible. Art should strive, Pius XII teaches, “to make the reflection of divine light smile over mankind … to help man to love everything that is true, pure, just and holy.” (2)

Something is not entirely beautiful unless it is fully inserted into the divine order, which is the only way for being to fulfill itself and reach its plenitude. Ugliness, falsehood and evil represent deficiencies of being. If we were to define absolute ugliness, we would say it is sin, the denial of divine order, the absence of being.

Modern art, esotericism and Pantheism

This philosophical base gives Catholics the criteria to judge beauty in its full dimension, which is a moral dimension, since Morals is the science of the good. Ethics and Aesthetics complement each other, seeking the fulfillment of God’s plan in creation.

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These principles, however, mean nothing to the artists of modern art. They speak a different language. For the surrealists, for example, “art is nothing but a means to access the surreal.” If we were to ask a surrealist artist what exactly the surreal is, he would not have a coherent answer. Thus, we are obliged to take an indirect approach to find out what it is.

Marcel Raymond considers that “of all the philosophies, the one most suitable to surrealism is esotericism [the science of the occult, of secret doctrines] – transmitted and enriched by a centuries-old tradition. The presentiment of a surreal universe – which absorbs the external and internal, the objective and subjective, in their experience of the death of sensibility – seems to be the normal consequence of the latent mysticism of surrealism and its rejection of reality.”

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The Temptation of St. Anthony by Dadaist Max Ernst
The French Surrealist artist Georges Buraud says: “Surrealism is a form of esotericism, a revival of a verbal and graphic magic using new methods or the old practices re-baptized by a new poetry. … Surrealism is inspired by magic. This is the reason for its influence, its suggestive force.” (3)

Behind Surrealism is Pantheism, which seeks the fusion of everything into the Great All. While we can say that true art is directed toward God, surrealism and modern art are directed toward the Devil.

There are two tendencies in surrealism: First, one that tries to subvert the reality of creation, and second, one that tries to express the mystery of the subconscious. As it develops those different tendencies, the surrealists make use of dreams, madness, magic, meta-psychicism, the libido, the savage instinct and automatism. They use components of these different fields without reservations under the pretext that the artist must be liberated from of any bonds to morals or logic.

Such irrational and immoral aberrations are not exclusive to surrealism. We also find them, with slight variations, in cubism, expressionism, Dadaism, futurism, abstractionism and other sub-branches of this artistic kabala.

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Modern art & Modernism

Modern art infiltrated the Catholic Church with the esoteric and extremely suspicious “sacred art” as part of the movement of Modernism. At the same time, we should note, other infiltrations were also taking place in the Church.

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Crucifixion by Marc Chagall
Under the general title of Modernism, we saw the rebirth of Gnosticism. “The sect of the Gnostics was also revived, and in 1893 it became the Gnostic church and was established in France by Fabre des Essarts in 1906. The Gnostics look for an esoteric common denominator that supposedly exists in every cult. For this purpose they study spiritism, hypnotism and magic. They try to explain the world without a Creator and end by professing an immanentist Pantheism.

Along the same lines, the Gnostics try to link the esotericism of the ancient Greek philosophers to the hermeticism of the Middle Ages, supposing it to underlay the doctrines of the Templars Knights, the Rosicrucians and the Freemasons.

Their pontiff is Albert Journet, who boasts to be the incontestable chief of modernist Catholics and aims to accomplish what he calls a Messianic Harmony. This would be a synthesis between the Church and the modern world, one that incorporates modern truths to Catholic doctrine. (4)

Thus we believe modern art must be studied from a broader perspective, as part of the far-ranging movement called Modernism.

Toynbee considers futurism, also a part of modern art, as authentic Satanism. Gaston Bardet explains how to track Satanism in the new religious art: “To demonstrate the Satanism of modern sacred art, we should apply the Marial test.” This means that we should look at how modern art is representing Our Lady to know where it is heading.

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Applying this test, we could ask whether the Virgin at the foot of the Cross in the Crucifixion by Marc Chagall moves us to serve God or the Devil. Another example that shows the perversion of modern art is the book The Immaculate Conception by André Breton and Paul Eluard.

1.Apud René Huygue, Conteporains, p. 61.
2.Pius XII, Allocution to the International Congress of Christian Art, September 1950.
3.Georges Buraud, “Les magies de l’ssoterism nouveau,” Etudes Carmelitaines.
4. Dictionnaire Apologétique de Foi Catholique, ed. by A. d’Alés, vol. II, p.123.

Published in Catolicismo n. 31, July, 1953
Translated and adapted by TIA desk
Posted June 24, 2011

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What are the characteristics of modernism art? ›

Although many different styles are encompassed by the term, there are certain underlying principles that define modernist art: A rejection of history and conservative values (such as realistic depiction of subjects); innovation and experimentation with form (the shapes, colours and lines that make up the work) with a ...

What are the esoteric arts? ›

Esoteric art may refer to painted, sculpted, printed, or textile media representations of esoteric divinities or esoteric symbols, ritual implements and furnishings, and halls or pagodas used for esoteric rites. The definition of esoteric art, like that of esoteric Buddhism, may be broad or narrow.

What defines modern art? ›

Modern art includes artistic work produced during the period extending roughly from the 1860s to the 1970s, and denotes the styles and philosophies of the art produced during that era. The term is usually associated with art in which the traditions of the past have been thrown aside in a spirit of experimentation.

Why is modern art important? ›

Why Is Modern Art Important? Modern art plays an essential role as a stimulus that can provoke independent thoughts and even emotions. Modern art gives the audience an opportunity to embrace new ideas and reflect on changes in the world and our lives differently.

What are 5 characteristics of modernism? ›

The Main Characteristics of Modernist Literature
  • Individualism. In Modernist literature, the individual is more interesting than society. ...
  • Experimentation. Modernist writers broke free of old forms and techniques. ...
  • Absurdity. The carnage of two World Wars profoundly affected writers of the period. ...
  • Symbolism. ...
  • Formalism.

What is modernism and its characteristics? ›

In literature, visual art, architecture, dance, and music, Modernism was a break with the past and the concurrent search for new forms of expression. Modernism fostered a period of experimentation in the arts from the late 19th to the mid-20th century, particularly in the years following World War I.

What are examples of esoteric? ›

very unusual and understood or liked by only a small number of people, especially those with special knowledge: He has an esoteric collection of old toys and games. disapproving or humorous She has a somewhat esoteric taste in clothes.

What is an example of esoteric knowledge? ›

Astrological beliefs, including supposed relationship between planets and select plants, are presented as esoteric knowledge.

What are three synonyms for esoteric? ›

Synonyms & Antonyms of esoteric
  • abstruse,
  • arcane,
  • deep,
  • hermetic.
  • (also hermetical),
  • profound,
  • recondite.

What makes modern art different? ›

A key distinction between modern and contemporary art was a shift in focus away from aesthetic beauty to the underlying concept of the work (conceptual art and performance art are good examples).

What is the style of modern art? ›

These modern movements include Neo-Impressionism, Symbolism, Fauvism, Cubism, Futurism, Expressionism, Suprematism, Constructivism, Metaphysical painting, De Stijl, Dada, Surrealism, Social Realism, Abstract Expressionism, Pop art, Op art, Minimalism, and Neo-Expressionism.

What is the difference between ancient and modern art? ›

Modern art is more expressive and less formal than ancient art. It questions or rejects the traditional means, treatment, or mindset of creating art. Modern art reflects artists' expressions and perspectives. On the other hand, ancient art was impersonal and conformed to a certain society or society as a whole.

What influenced modern art? ›

The origins of modern art are traditionally traced to the mid-19th-century rejection of Academic tradition in subject matter and style by certain artists and critics. Painters of the Impressionist school that emerged in France in the late 1860s sought to free painting from the tyranny of academic standards…

Who Invented modern art? ›

Manet is one of the main candidates for the title of the most important artist that ever lived. As the father of Impressionism he can be accused of inventing modern art.

How is modern art organized? ›

Traditionally, the history of modern art is organized around a series of intellectual, philosophical, and aesthetic developments that informed artworks created at the time. Contemporary historians, however, focus more on the connections between artistic styles than on a linear progression.

What are the three elements of modernism? ›

Key elements of modernism include break from tradition, Individualism, and disillusionment.

What are the main themes of modernism? ›

The major literary themes of the Modernist Era are confusion, isolation, and disillusionment. These themes reflect the mindset of the American people and the feelings that plagued them throughout the early 1900s.

What are the common characteristics of modern literary? ›

Individualism, experimentation, Symbolism, Absurdity, and Formalism are all key components of modern literature.

What are two characteristics of modernism? ›

The following are characteristics of Modernism: Marked by a strong and intentional break with tradition. This break includes a strong reaction against established religious, political, and social views. Belief that the world is created in the act of perceiving it; that is, the world is what we say it is.

Is symbolism part of modernism? ›

Symbolism is the first manifestation of modernism, appeared as a poetical deviation from romanticism. The metaphysical justification consolidates a genuine religion of art, which is manifested by aestheticism, by the cult of artificiality. Thus, the poem becomes the prototype of art in symbolism.

How is modernism different from postmodernism? ›

Modernism is a school of thought that took place in late 1800s and early 1900s while postmodernism is a school of thought that took place after World War II. 2. Modernism advocated rational thinking and the use of science and reason for the advancement of man while postmodernism believed in the irrationality of things.

What is the difference between esoteric and exoteric? ›

These adjectives have opposite meanings. Esoteric means “not public or common knowledge” while exoteric refers to “knowledge or practices commonly taught or shared.” For example, mystical, magical, or occult practices are typically described as esoteric, while everything taught in public school is exoteric!

What does esoteric mean in philosophy? ›

In the Oxford English Dictionary, esoteric is defined as follows: Of philosophical doctrines, treatises, modes of speech, etc.: designed for, or appropriate to, an inner life of advanced or privileged disciples; communi- cated to, or intelligible by, the initiated exclusively.

Who is an esoteric person? ›

The term esoteric has been adopted in the spiritual community in a more philosophical sense, it is used to describe a practice or a person who seemingly has a deep knowledge of the universe and the lessons within it and actively works to connect with those things.

What is the definition of esoteric knowledge? ›

What does esoteric mean? Esoteric most commonly means obscure and only understood or intended to be understood by a small number of people with special (and perhaps secret) knowledge. It's often used to describe knowledge that's only intended to be revealed to people who have been initiated into a certain group.

What are esoteric subjects? ›

An esoteric subject is a subject that is known to a select group of people rather than the population at large.

Does esoteric mean secret? ›

esoteric, the quality of having an inner or secret meaning. This term and its correlative exoteric were first applied in the ancient Greek mysteries to those who were initiated (eso, “within”) and to those who were not (exo, “outside”), respectively.

What is the best antonym for esoteric? ›

antonyms for esoteric
  • common.
  • familiar.
  • known.
  • obvious.
  • public.
  • unmysterious.

What's the meaning of exoteric? ›

exoteric \adjective\ ek-suh-TAIR-ik. 1 a : suitable to be imparted to the public. b : belonging to the outer or less initiate circle. 2 : relating to the outside : external.

What is a synonym for metaphysical? ›

cosmic. (also cosmical), intellectual, mental, spiritual.

What are the characteristics of modern art and contemporary art? ›

Modern and Contemporary Art both can both be considered revolutionary, but Contemporary Art is more about experimentation and freedom. Modern Art is an expression of individuality, while Contemporary Art focuses on social impact, with society as the primary focus.

What are the 5 characteristics of an artwork? ›

Traditional way of looking at art, namely the visual arts, suggests that there are five basic elements of an art work – line, shape, color, texture and space.

What are the characteristics of art? ›

Common characteristics of good art are:
  • the right amount of details.
  • the skillful use of light and shadow.
  • interesting color choices.
  • a believable and appropriate perspective.
  • an artistically pleasing composition.
  • a (high) degree of realism.
21 Apr 2020

What are the characteristics of impressionism in art? ›

Impressionism describes a style of painting developed in France during the mid-to-late 19th century; characterizations of the style include small, visible brushstrokes that offer the bare impression of form, unblended color and an emphasis on the accurate depiction of natural light.

What makes modern art different? ›

A key distinction between modern and contemporary art was a shift in focus away from aesthetic beauty to the underlying concept of the work (conceptual art and performance art are good examples).

How is modern art different from earlier styles of art? ›

Modern art broke away from the conventional forms of art. They emphasized on the subjective representation of subjects rather than focusing on realism that was prevalent before the 1880s. Modern art had its unique style and reflected the inner and the outer world.

What's the difference between modern art and contemporary art? ›

Modern art came before contemporary art. Most art historians and critics put the beginning of modern art in the West at around the 1860s, continuing up to the 1960s. Whereas, contemporary art means art made in the present day.

What are the 7 elements of art? ›

ELEMENTS OF ART: The visual components of color, form, line, shape, space, texture, and value.

What is the most important element of art? ›

Line: A very important Element of Art is “Line”. Imagine a work of art with no use of lines. Whether it is a drawing, painting, or sculpture, lines are important. They help form shapes, and also can communicate an idea or feeling.

What is the most important characteristic of contemporary art? ›

The most prominent feature of contemporary art is the fact that it has no distinct feature or a single characteristic. It is defined by the artist's ability to innovate and bring out a modern masterpiece.

What are the 3 main categories of art? ›

There are countless forms of art. When it comes to visual arts, there are generally 3 types: decorative, commercial, and fine art.

What are the four nature of art? ›

What is art? People classify a wide range of objects as art by general agreement. Every culture on earth has produced objects of visual interest, involving ornamentation, design, picture- making, and abstraction.

What is the notable characteristic of 21st century artwork? ›

A pronounced tendency in the 21st century has been art that is participatory, in which the social interactions prompted by a work become its content. Often called relational art, the work literally engages the public in some way.

What are the characteristics of realism? ›

realism, in the arts, the accurate, detailed, unembellished depiction of nature or of contemporary life. Realism rejects imaginative idealization in favour of a close observation of outward appearances.

What are 4 of the key characteristics of Impressionism? ›

The 5 Impressionism Art Characteristics
  • Quick, loose brush strokes.
  • Bright paintings.
  • “En plein air” (Painting Outside)
  • Relative color.
  • Clearer picture from further away.
22 Sept 2021


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