Language of the Birds: Occult and Art

12 Jan 2016 – 13 Feb 2016

Regular hours

12:00 – 18:00
12:00 – 18:00
12:00 – 18:00
12:00 – 18:00

Cost of entry


80WSE Gallery | NYU Steinhardt

New York
New York, United States

Save Event: Language of the Birds: Occult and Art

I've seen this

People who have saved this event:


New York University's 80WSE Gallery and Pam Grossman are pleased to announce Language of the Birds: Occult and Art, a survey of esoteric artists from the last 100 years.


Language of the Birds: Occult and Art considers over 60 modern and contemporary artists who have each expressed their own engagement with magical practice. Beginning with Aleister Crowley's tarot paintings and Austin Osman Spare's automatic drawings of the 1920s, the exhibition traces nearly a century of occult art, including Leonora Carrington and Kurt Seligmann's surrealist explorations, Kenneth Anger and Ira Cohen's ritualistic experiments in film and photography, and the mystical probings of contemporary visionaries such as Francesco Clemente, Kiki Smith, Paul Laffoley, BREYER P-ORRIDGE, and Carol Bove. 

The concerns and influences of each of these artists are as eclectic as the styles in which they work. While several of the pieces deal with "high" or ceremonial magic, others draw from so-called "low magic" practices and have deeply chthonic roots. The approaches in technique are varying as well, with some doing years of research and preparation for the act of creation, and others working entirely intuitively. Regardless of method, Language of the Birds suggests that all are part of the same lineage: one that pulls on threads from the esoteric web of alchemy, Hermeticism, Spiritualism, Theosophy, divination and witchcraft. 

The exhibition takes its name from the historical and cross-cultural notion that there is a magic language via which only the initiated can communicate.  Often referred to as the "language of the birds," it is a system rumored to operate in symbols, and to be a vehicle for revealing hidden truths and igniting metamorphic sparks.

The artists in Language of the Birds can be considered magicians, then, when seen through this mythopoeic lens. A visual vocabulary is offered up by them, so that we all might be initiated into their imaginal mystery cults and dialog with the ineffable. They speak to us in secret tongues, cast spells, and employ pictures for the purpose of activating profound change in both themselves and in us.  By going within, then drawing streams of imagery forth through their creations, each of these artists seeks to render the invisible visible, to materialize the immaterial, and to tell us that we, too, can enter numinous realms.

Participating Artists

Kenneth Anger * Anohni (FKA Antony Hegarty) * Laura Battle * Jordan Belson * Alison Blickle * Carol Bove * Jesse Bransford * BREYER P-ORRIDGE * John Brill * Robert Buratti * Elijah Burgher * Cameron * Leonora Carrington * Francesco Clemente * Ira Cohen * Brian Cotnoir * Aleister Crowley * Enrico Donati * El Gato Chimney * Leonor Fini * JFC Fuller * Helen Rebekah Garber * Rik Garrett * Delia Gonzalez * Jonah Groeneboer * Juanita Guccione * Brion Gysin * Frank Haines * Barry William Hale * Valerie Hammond * Ken Henson * Bernard Hoffman * Nino Japaridze * Gerome Kamrowski * Leo Kenney * Paul Laffoley * Adela Leibowitz * Darcilio Lima * Angus MacLise * Ann McCoy * Rithika Merchant * William Mortensen * Rosaleen Norton * Micki Pellerano * Ryan M Pfeiffer & Rebecca Walz * Max Razdow * Ron Regé, Jr. * Kurt Seligmann * Harry Smith * Kiki Smith * Xul Solar * Austin Osman Spare * Charles Stein * Shannon Taggart * Gordon Terry * Scott Treleaven * Panos Tsagaris * Charmion von Wiegand * Robert Wang * Peter Lamborn Wilson * Lionel Ziprin

Special Events Related to the Exhibition

Weds, Jan 13:  Opening Reception  6-8pm

Weds, Jan 27:  Performance of "The Language," a theatrical piece written by playwright Matthew Freeman, commissioned for Language of the Birds  7pm

Fri, Feb 5 - Sun, Feb 7: The Occult Humanities Conference  at NYU Steinhardt - a weekend long symposium of 14 lectures and performances which explore the influence of magical thought upon art, history, and contemporary culture (Please note: conference will be taking place at 34 Stuyvesant St - Full conference details below)

Weds, Feb 10: "Art Workings" Lectures and panel discussion with Professor Susan L. Aberth, Jesse Bransford, and William Breeze  7pm

What to expect? Toggle


Pam Grossman

Exhibiting artists

Robert Wang

Rik Garrett

Valerie Hammond

Ann McCoy

Aleister Crowley

Kurt Seligmann

Bernard Hoffman

Ron Regé Jr.

Scott Treleaven

Barry William Hale

Delia Gonzalez


Robert Buratti

Genesis Breyer P-Orridge

Harry Smith

El Gato Chimney

Francesco Clemente

Leo Kenney

Shannon Taggart

Jonah Groeneboer

Austin Osman Spare

Brian Cotnoir

Jordan Belson

William Mortensen

Max Razdow

Jesse Bransford

JFC Fuller

Gordon Terry

Frank Haines

Micki Pellerano

Darcilio Lima

Xul Solar

Lionel Ziprin

Alison Blickle

John Brill

Ryan M Pfeiffer & Rebecca Walz

Elijah Burgher

Rithika Merchant

Charmion von Wiegand

Adela Leibowitz

Rosaleen Norton

Ira Cohen

Enrico Donati

Laura Battle

Gerome Kamrowski

Paul Laffoley

Carol Bove

Leonor Fini

Panos Tsagaris

Brion Gysin

Peter Lamborn Wilson

Nino Japaridze

Helen Rebekah Garber

Ken Henson


Angus MacLise

Juanita Guccione

Leonora Carrington

Kenneth Anger

Charles Stein

Kiki Smith


Have you been to this event? Share your insights and give it a review below.