Austin Osman Spare: The Life and Legend of London's Lost Artist by Phil Baker


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Strange Attractor Press, 2011. First edition. Hardback. 272 pages. Minor wear to jacket, slight fade, a small mark present on front-cloth, otherwise very good.

'Forgotten and famous at the same time, Austin Osman Spare (1886-1956) is now a cult figure, much mythologised since his death. Controversial enfant terrible of the Edwardian art world, Spare was hailed as a genius and a new Aubrey Beardsley, but instead he fell out of the West End art scene and went underground, living in poverty and obscurity in South London. Absorbed in occultism and sorcery, voyaging into inner dimensions and surrounding himself with cats and familiar spirits, he continued to produce extraordinary art while developing a magical philosophy of pleasure, obsession, and the subjective nature of reality.

This ground-breaking biographical study offers wide-ranging insights into Spare’s art, mind and world, reconnecting him with the mainstream art history that ignored him and exploring his parallel London; a bygone place of pub pianists, twentieth-century
alchemists and gigantic owls.

Richly readable and illuminating, it takes us deep into the strange inner world that this most enigmatic of artists inhabited, shedding new light while allowing just a few shadowy corners to flourish unspoiled.'