ARTBOOK LOGO

ARTBOOK BLOG

RECENT POSTS

DATE 8/25/2017

Back in Print! Bauhaus 1919-1933

DATE 8/24/2017

KAWS: transgressing the borders between art and society

DATE 8/23/2017

Michael Auping on cartoons, abstraction and KAWS

DATE 8/22/2017

'KAWS: Where the End Starts' available at last!

DATE 8/21/2017

New edition of Stan Brakhage's epic 'Metaphors on Vision'

DATE 8/19/2017

Engagingly seedy and colorful: Fred Herzog's Vancouver

DATE 8/16/2017

Albert Elm's enigmatic 'What Sort of Life Is This'

DATE 8/12/2017

Back in stock! Andy Warhol: Prints

DATE 8/11/2017

Peter Schjeldahl on Peter Cain, 1997

DATE 8/10/2017

Back to School

DATE 8/10/2017

Collier Schorr on Peter Cain

DATE 8/9/2017

Bristling with post-Freudian electricity: Anne Collier: Women with Cameras (Anonymous)

DATE 8/8/2017

Michael Williams and the truth about painting

DATE 8/7/2017

A remarkable feat of facsimile publishing: Lee Lozano: Private Book 2

DATE 8/6/2017

In honor of the Newport Jazz Festival: Jim Marshall

DATE 8/5/2017

Kitchen textile designer Marguerita Mergentime featured on Food 52!

DATE 8/4/2017

Dayanita Singh's poetic mini-museum

DATE 8/3/2017

A museum, a book and an object. Dayanita Singh: Museum Bhavan

DATE 8/2/2017

"Not just anyone makes a good pisser"

DATE 8/1/2017

AUTOPHOTO and the old-fashioned idea of freedom

DATE 7/31/2017

Emil Nolde's wild Grotesques

DATE 7/30/2017

Christine Osinski: Summer Days Staten Island, Young Man Pulling a Go Cart

DATE 7/29/2017

Calling all flaneurs, cosmopolitans and bon vivants!

DATE 7/28/2017

Summer Reading: Midnight: The Tempest Essays by Molly Nesbit

DATE 7/27/2017

Retuning perceptions in 'Fred Sandback: Vertical Constructions'

DATE 7/26/2017

Nonchalant flirting with oblivion: Ray Johnson

DATE 7/25/2017

Philip Guston's Nixon Drawings have never been more relevant

DATE 7/24/2017

A book for our times: Philip Guston: Nixon Drawings

DATE 7/23/2017

Tom Bianchi: Fire Island Pines, Polaroids 1975-1983

DATE 7/22/2017

Tom Bianchi's 70s photos of the Gay Community in Fire Island Pines

DATE 7/21/2017

Exactly what's the deal with Russia, again?

DATE 7/21/2017

Hauser & Wirth LA Presents 'Master of Go' Summer Reading Group

DATE 7/21/2017

Hauser & Wirth LA Presents 'In the Deep' Summer Reading Group

DATE 7/21/2017

Fire Island Pines in its infancy and its heyday

DATE 7/20/2017

Oozing with potency: Margaret Hooks' Tina Modotti Biography

DATE 7/19/2017

"Disagreements must be intensified and their gaps must be widened."

DATE 7/19/2017

Cooking from the CCCP COOK BOOK

DATE 7/18/2017

A beautiful new book on Japanese artist Jiro Takamatsu

DATE 7/17/2017

Enough room to play: Craft Becomes Modern: The Bauhaus in the Making

DATE 7/16/2017

Between utopia and industrial culture: Craft Becomes Modern

DATE 7/15/2017

Exceptional architecture in 'Francis Kéré: Radically Simple'

DATE 7/14/2017

Marriage of the Minds in Alex Webb and Rebecca Norris Webb: Slant Rhymes

DATE 7/13/2017

Poetry meets photography in 'Alex Webb and Rebecca Norris Webb: Slant Rhymes'

DATE 7/12/2017

USPS Celebrates Andrew Wyeth's world - the way he wanted it

DATE 7/11/2017

USPS Celebrates Andrew Wyeth with Forever Stamps

DATE 7/11/2017

'Studio: Remembering Chris Marker' Event at Metrograph

DATE 7/10/2017

The torment of the loner, the distress of the seeker beset by visions: Egon Schiele

DATE 7/9/2017

Even magic is doomed to pass: Egon Schiele

DATE 7/8/2017

Relive turn-of-the-century Paris in the postcards of Eugène Atget

DATE 7/8/2017

The deceptive simplicity of Women in Trees

DATE 7/8/2017

SUMMER BOOK SALE - SAVE UP TO 70% (click HERE to see more!)


AT FIRST SIGHT

HAYDEN ANDERSON | DATE 3/13/2015

Cameron: Songs for the Witch Woman

In her introduction to Cameron: Songs for the Witch Woman, curator Yael Lipschutz writes that, "Cameron's commitment to live her life as art itself constitutes a rare, avant-gardist approach, one that makes separating her biography from the thousands of drawings, paintings and sketchbooks she left behind a near impossibility." Luckily for us, her biography is as fascinating as they come.

Cameron: Songs for the Witch Woman
ABOVE: An undated portrait of Cameron by George Herms. Unless noted, all images are reproduced from Cameron: Songs for the Witch Woman.

Born Marjorie Cameron in 1922, Cameron grew up in rural Iowa before embarking upon a brief stint in the Navy during the Second World War. Following her service, she moved to Pasadena, where her family had relocated. There, Cameron threw herself into the jazz world bohemia surrounding the clubs on South Central Avenue in Los Angeles. Soon after, she would discover another subcultural undercurrent of L.A.—one that was smaller and stranger, and which would radically alter the course of her life. One fateful evening in 1945 or 46, Cameron attended a party at a Pasadena mansion dubbed The Parsonage, home of the rocket engineer and occultist Jack Parsons. Immediately entranced by Cameron's red hair, Parsons believed that she was the "Scarlet Woman" that he had been trying to conjure through ritual magic. The two began an intense love affair, during which Parsons introduced Cameron to the esoteric philosophies and practices of astrology, the Tarot, I Ching and Aleister Crowley's occult Thelema, mentoring her in rituals of "sexual magick."

Cameron used her artwork as a site to explore the new ideas she was encountering through Parsons, evident in a series of watercolor drawings titled Songs for the Witch Woman, created in response to a series of Parsons' poems. Published to accompany MOCA LA's 2014 exhibition at the Pacific Design Center, the engrossing monograph Cameron: Songs for the Witch Woman opens with scanned pages from the Parsons/Cameron collaboration. The left pages feature Cameron's drawings of female figures, fantastical creatures and eerie landscapes, while Parsons' handwritten verse poems, featuring titles like Pan, Danse and Sorcerer appear on the right.

Cameron: Songs for the Witch Woman
ABOVE: The "Pan" spread from Cameron and Jack Parsons' Songs for the Witch Woman, 1951.

Although Cameron would always return to California, her life thereafter was marked by several long and restless sojourns. After marrying Parsons, Cameron traveled to Europe, where she tried and failed to locate Aleister Crowley, who had died. She then traveled to San Miguel de Allende, Mexico, where she met a community of artists that included Leonora Carrington and David Alfaro Siqueiros.

But tragedy caught up to Cameron in 1952, when Parsons was killed in an explosion at his laboratory. Devastated, Cameron retreated to the desert town of Beaumont, California, where she immersed herself in magical practices, claiming to have created a mystical child—or "wormwood star"—with the spirit of Parsons. She also continued working on her Songs for the Witch Woman series, this time in black-and-white ink.

Cameron: Songs for the Witch Woman
ABOVE: "Witch Woman," 1955.

When Cameron finally emerged from her solitude, she returned to L.A. and fell into contact with some of the era's most influential avant-garde artists and counterculture figures. She first gained notoriety through her acting, which included a starring role in Kenneth Anger's film Inauguration of the Pleasure Dome and an appearance alongside Dennis Hopper in Curtis Harrington's Night Tide.

Cameron: Songs for the Witch Woman
ABOVE: Cameron as the Scarlet Woman in Kenneth Anger’s 1956 film, Inauguration of the Pleasure Dome, photographer unknown.

Cameron's attempts at expanding her consciousness did not end when she returned to the city, and as before, this process was documented in her work. In 1955, in the midst of a peyote trip, she created a drawing that would have repercussions for the greater L.A. art scene. A bold depiction of interwoven mysticism and sexuality, Peyote Vision depicts a woman having sex with an alien figure. The drawing was later displayed in the window of the esoteric bookstore Books 55, where it was seen by the artist Wallace Berman. Berman was so entranced by the work that he sought the woman who made it.

Cameron: Songs for the Witch Woman
ABOVE: “Peyote Vision," 1955.

Berman, subject of the recently reprinted classic, Semina Culture: Wallace Berman and His Circle, was a central figure in the California Beat art scene of the late fifties. A man of eclectic interests ranging from Kabbalah to jazz to French literature, Berman attracted and sustained a network of visual artists, poets, filmmakers and photographers. Integral to this network was Berman's hand-printed publication, Semina, which extended his assemblage technique by including texts by William Blake and Charles Baudelaire alongside the work of friends like Allen Ginsberg, Llyn Foulkes and Michael McClure. Berman had such a high regard for Cameron that he featured her portrait on the cover of the very first issue of Semina (1955), which included a reproduction of Peyote Vision inside. When Berman staged his first and only gallery exhibition two years later at Ferus Gallery in Los Angeles, he included Peyote Vision in one of his assemblages.

Cameron: Songs for the Witch Woman
ABOVE: The first issue of Semina, featuring Berman's portrait of Cameron. Image is reproduced from Semina Culture.

But not everyone was so appreciative; a visitor to Berman's Ferus show found Cameron's drawing offensive and called the L.A. Vice Squad, anonymously alleging public obscenity. As a result, the show was raided during the opening and shut down; Berman was later convicted for the display of lewd and obscene materials. This infamous incident would have a profound effect on both Berman and Cameron, neither of whom would consent to show their work in a gallery context again in their lifetime. And yet, both would continue to work prolifically, as is evident in the second half of Songs for the Witch Woman—especially the series of ink drawings, Pluto Transiting the Twelfth House.

Cameron: Songs for the Witch Woman
ABOVE: A drawing from Cameron's Pluto Transiting the Twelfth House series, 1978–86.

That neither Cameron nor Berman's artistic output was affected by the rejection of the gallery system is not surprising, given the intensely personal nature of their work. Just as Michael Duncan's introduction to Semina Culture describes the art of the Beat movement as "one that stands outside of the traditional art-historical narrative of 'progression,'" the only progression that Cameron's art followed was that of her own spirit as she dove ever deeper into the investigation of self. Songs for the Witch Woman gathers the traces left from that journey, which, thankfully, opens up the world of Cameron for us just a little bit more, mystery still intact.

Cameron: Songs for the Witch Woman
HAYDEN ANDERSON studied media and literature at New York University. He is Associate Publicist at ARTBOOK | D.A.P.

Cameron: Songs for the Witch Woman

Cameron: Songs for the Witch Woman

CAMERON-PARSONS FOUNDATION/THE MUSEUM OF CONTEMPORARY ART, LOS ANGELES
Hbk, 9.25 x 11.75 in. / 88 pgs / 75 color.

DATE 8/23/2015

Xanti Schawinsky

Xanti Schawinsky

DATE 7/31/2015

Axel Hoedt

Axel Hoedt

DATE 9/11/2014

New York Is ...

New York Is ...

DATE 5/13/2014

Libuse Niklová

Libuse Niklová


ARTBOOK LOGO
 
 

the art world's source for books on art & culture

  

CUSTOMER SERVICE
orders@artbook.com
212 627 1999
M-F 9-5 EST

TRADE ACCOUNTS

800 338 2665

CONTACT

JOBS + INTERNSHIPS

NEW YORK
Showroom by Appointment Only
75 Broad Street, Suite 630
New York NY 10004
Tel   212 627 1999

LOS ANGELES
Showroom by Appointment Only
818 S. Broadway, Suite 700
Los Angeles, CA 90014
Tel. 323 969 8985

ARTBOOK LLC
D.A.P. | Distributed Art Publishers, Inc.


All site content Copyright C 2000-2017 by Distributed Art Publishers, Inc. and the respective publishers, authors, artists. For reproduction permissions, contact the copyright holders.

ARTBOOK AMPERSAT

The D.A.P. Catalog
www.artbook.com