ARTBOOK LOGO

ARTBOOK BLOG

RECENT POSTS

DATE 7/16/2018

Join us at the 2018 SF Art Book Fair!

DATE 7/16/2018

MoMA's 'Toward a Concrete Utopia' revives a lost architecture

DATE 7/15/2018

Fantastic Brutalism in hot MoMA show, 'Toward a Concrete Utopia: Architecture in Yugoslavia, 1948–1980'

DATE 7/14/2018

BACK IN STOCK! Deanna Templeton: The Swimming Pool

DATE 7/13/2018

David Hockney, palm trees and homoeroticism in 'Paradise is Now'

DATE 7/12/2018

Celebrate the radical optimism of Buckminster Fuller during the month of his birth 123 years ago!

DATE 7/12/2018

Palm trees and art in 'Paradise Is Now'

DATE 7/11/2018

An eerie time machine: Unearthing Ancient Nubia

DATE 7/11/2018

Game-changing fashion photography in Posturing

DATE 7/9/2018

Fluid and improvisational, 'Saul Leiter: Early Color'

DATE 7/9/2018

Visit us at the Atlanta Gift & Home Furnishings Market

DATE 7/8/2018

Saul Leiter, offbeat chronicler of metropolitan scenes

DATE 7/7/2018

In 'Saul Leiter: Early Color,' urban visual poetry that is by turns deeply affectionate, edgy and breathtakingly poignant

DATE 7/6/2018

Bruno Ceschel & Shonagh Marshall to launch 'Posturing' at MAST

DATE 7/5/2018

Looking, identity and other texts in 'Felix Gonzalez-Torres'

DATE 7/4/2018

Celebrate the 4th of July with Ice Cream Headaches

DATE 7/3/2018

Cool off with 'The Swimming Pool in Photography'

DATE 7/2/2018

Joni Sternbach's 'Surf Site Tin Type' evokes a time when the sea had its own voice and the energy of mana animated all persons and places

DATE 7/1/2018

Celebrate 4th of July weekend with the lifeguards of Jones Beach

DATE 6/30/2018

One version of gay happiness: Tom Bianchi: Fire Island Pines

DATE 6/29/2018

George Condo on Ed Ruscha

DATE 6/28/2018

Edward Weston: caressing and coaxing his camera towards the highest form of picture art

DATE 6/27/2018

NEW! Edward Weston: The Early Years

DATE 6/26/2018

SCHOOL'S OUT & SURF'S UP! Staff Favorite Summer Books, 2018

DATE 6/25/2018

Ryan McGinness: #metadata is new from Damiani!

DATE 6/24/2018

Celebrate the LGBT Pride Parade, now and then

DATE 6/24/2018

Celebrated photographer David Goldblatt dies, aged 87

DATE 6/23/2018

CELEBRATE LGBT PRIDE!

DATE 6/22/2018

Playfulness and Pride in 'LGBT: San Francisco'

DATE 6/21/2018

In 'Sorolla and Fashion,' a keen spectator capable of capturing fleeting beauty

DATE 6/19/2018

The photograph as source of unlocked potential in 'Shape of Light'

DATE 6/19/2018

Hans Ulrich Obrist to launch 'Somewhere Totally Else' at MoMA PS1 Book Space

DATE 6/18/2018

The photographic object as a record of performance in 'The Shape of Light'

DATE 6/17/2018

'Shape of Light' presents 100 years of photography and abstract art

DATE 6/16/2018

Beauty and strangeness in 'Michael Webb: Two Journeys'

DATE 6/16/2018

Theo Deutinger: Handbook of Tyranny at MoMA PS1

DATE 6/15/2018

Still radical. 'Michael Webb: Two Journeys' releases this week.

DATE 6/14/2018

Aggression and menace, history and place in 'Jack Whitten: Odyssey'

DATE 6/13/2018

In 'Jack Whitten: Odyssey,' sculpture moves backward and forward in time and across the globe

DATE 6/12/2018

Manifesting a future only he could see: Bodys Isek Kingelez

DATE 6/11/2018

If only the real world could be more like Bodys Isek Kingelez's

DATE 6/10/2018

Suburban, exotic, utterly private, boisterously public, a threat or a blessing: 'The Swimming Pool in Photography'

DATE 6/9/2018

Celebrate summer with 'The Swimming Pool in Photography'

DATE 6/8/2018

Giacometti: breaking free from enforced immobility

DATE 6/7/2018

Giacometti comes to the Guggenheim!

DATE 6/6/2018

Ice Cream Headaches Launch Events in Bay Head, Long Beach & Montauk

DATE 6/6/2018

Celebrate Pride Month with the recently rediscovered paintings of Patrick Angus

DATE 6/5/2018

Celebrate Pride Month with 'LGBT: San Francisco'

DATE 6/4/2018

Grotesque, sensual and erotic: The Art of Aubrey Beardsley

DATE 6/2/2018

'Brion Gysin: His Name Was Master' Launch with Genesis Breyer P-Orridge at Mast

DATE 6/2/2018

Doves and fists, creativity and subversion in 'Protest: The Aesthetics of Resistance'


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