VOID|IN ART
By Mark Levy, PhD

       
 

SYNOPSIS

Void|In Art brings together the author's many years of meditation practice with his knowledge of art history and the sacred wisdom texts of Eastern philosophy to show how the experience of the Great Void of ultimate reality, a central aspect of the meditation experience, is embodied in different ways in mostly esoteric Hindu, Buddhist, and Taoist art as well as in the work of several modern and contemporary Eastern and Western artists. Lesser metaphysical and existential voids are also discussed in their appropriate contexts. The Eastern section of the book is largely organized by different cultures and genres while in the Western section the examination of the works of art is constructed in a more chronological fashion to show the rationale behind the basic abhorrence of the Void in art until the early 19th century. Throughout the book the importance of the Void in art and life is emphasized.

ENDORSEMENTS

This is a rich and comprehensive book on the Void--what some call emptiness or boundlessness- in art, religion, and the psyche. Skillfully written and researched, filled with illustrations of the void and those contemplating vastness, this wondrous book brings the inexpressible to us through word and image.

Joan Halifax Roshi,
Abbott and Head Teacher,
Upaya Zen Center, Santa Fe, New Mexico.

Mark Levy shows that there's more to the Void than plain old emptiness. In a careful scholarly survey, he shows the richness of its meaning in traditional Asian thinking, and its relevance for certain aspects of contemporary art. His book is an altogether outstanding achievement, all the more necessary in a society which has forgotten what it means to plumb the depths of the Void.

Donald B. Kuspit,
Professor of Art and Philosophy,
State University of New York, Stony Brook

For centuries, art has been looked at in the dual context of its evocation of the concepts of Beauty and the Sublime, but rarely has there been the forwarding of a perspective that could link these powerful ideas. Now Mark Levy has given us an important key to that linkage by way of his focus on The Void, which in its various art historical guises can be said to be the metaphysical absence that is made esthetically present by a host of significant works of art hailing from the past as well as the contemporary present. Levy’s grasp of the transcultural lineage of The Void is particularly impressive, as he takes into account the art histories of Europe and Asia to advance an original and timely metaphysics of art.

Mark Van Proyen,
Art Critic and Professor of Art
and Art History, San Francisco Art Institute

The idea of Void in Chinese arts and as well as in the Chinese meditative traditions remains the least well understood and one of the most inaccessible wellsprings of world cultures. This is in large because Western thought, despite the unifying insights and attempts of recent science and social approach, clings to the notion of the separation of matter and spirit, body and mind.
Mark Levy, departing from those who understand Chinese arts and meditative traditions solely as artistic, philosophical, or religious doctrines, argues refreshingly for their inseparability in the practices from overall cultural context. Without the cultural context, the notion of “emptiness is form, form is emptiness” becomes challenging but a weary intellectual cliché, and a cheap philosophical commodity. Levy’s prolong practice of Tai Chi and Taoist meditation has enabled him to understand aspects of Chinese painting and calligraphy that are not usually uncovered by Western academics. Given such a perspective, his book Void in Art becomes the first of its kind—lucid and groundbreaking.

Xianshen Bing YeYoung,
master of Chinese painting and calligraphy, Tai Chi and Taoist meditation, former university professor of Chinese Philosophy and Arts in China

 

 
     
   

ISBN: 1-883647-11-8
List Price: $24.95
224 Pages, 8x8

ABOUT THE AUTHOR

Mark Levy (PhD) has taught courses in modern European art, Asian art, and shamanism and art at Kenyon College, the University of Nevada, Reno, and the San Francisco Art Institute. For the last 25 years he has been teaching at California State University, East Bay where he is a Professor of Art History. He is also deeply involved in shamanic healing and seeing practices and leads a Kundalini meditation school for a small number of dedicated students. His first book Technicians of Ecstasy: Shamanism and the Modern Artist has become a classic text in this field. Following the publication of Void in Art he will resume work on Axis Mundi: Gateways to the Upper and Lower World In Art which describes how sacred architecture and natural power spots facilitate the shamanic journey into non-ordinary reality either intentionally or unintentionally.

     
   

All of us who care greatly about art have maps of what matters most in art. Mark Levy, a teacher of meditation and thoroughly trained art historian, shares his personal map with us in this book. It encompasses Sesshu's luminous fog, Caravaggio's dark theater, Caspar David Friedrich's vast landscape, the visual epiphanies of Mark Rothko and Ad Reinhardt--and much else. Levy draws from art lessons for practice.

Roger Lipsey,
author of The Spiritual in
Twentieth-Century Art
(Dover, 2004)

Professor Levy is a member of the post-formalist generation which is bringing the study of form and a study of content into balance, and building bridges between Asian philosophical aesthetics and Modern philosophical aesthetics. He brings to the study of meditative art, years of meditative practice. This is extremely uncommon among academics. . . . He already is widely respected for his ability to explain in clear language both the rational and non-ordinary mental processes underlying the generation of spiritually oriented art. His last book Technicians of Ecstasy: Shamanism and the Modern Artist, has become a classic in the field. The Void |In Art certainly will also become a standard reference.

Lanier Graham,
author of Duchamp & Androgyny
and Goddessess in Art