other visual work

theosophy and perennial occult paradigms

Thoughtforms cover

As an example of this kind of influence on art, Theosophy founders Annie Besant and C. W. Leadbeater's 1901 book 'Thought-forms' 1 (illustrations and extracts on a separate page) and Rudolf Steiner's post-theosophical Athroposophy (which contained a detailed theory of colour) had a marked effect on Kandinsky's direction (‘Concerning the spiritual in art’ 2), but this was practically ignored until the early 70s, when Sixten Ringböm published ‘The Sounding Cosmos’ 3, a biography that finally acknowledged and detailed Kandinsky's spiritual influences.

Similarly, the occult (‘in shadow’) modes of thought that permeate history also remained largely undocumented or neglected until relatively recently, when the work of Dame Frances Yates4 made the topic respectable once more. Writers like Marina Warner, who curated The Inner Eye exhibition5 on this theme, have continued the work.

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1. Besant, Annie & Leadbeater, C.W., ‘Thought-forms’, Theosophical Publishing House, Adyar, Madras, India, 1941 (reprint).
2. Kandinsky, Wassily, ‘Über das Geistig in der Kunst’ (Concerning the Spiritual in Art), publishing details to follow.
3. Ringbom, Sixten, ‘The Sounding Cosmos: a Study in the Spiritualism of Kandinsky and the Genesis of Abstract Painting’, Abo (Finlandia) 1970.
4. Yates, Frances A., ‘The Occult Philosophy in the Elizabethan Age’, ARK Paperback, London, 1983.
5. Warner, Marina, ‘The Inner Eye: Art Beyond the VisibleMarina Warner Inner Eye link’, Catalogue of exhibition, Manchester, Brighton, Swansea, Dulwich Picture Gallery (London, 1996-97) Vintage (paperback) UK.