The artist as a visionary : a consideration of Jackson Pollock, Joseph Beuys and Jackson Hlungwani as visionary artists.
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This study is a consideration of the notion of the artist as a visionary. This perception of the artist is explored in relation to the work and ideas of three twentieth century artists; the American painter Jackson Pollock (1912-1952), the German artist Joseph Beuys (1921-1983) and the South African artist Jackson Hlungwani (1918 -). The work and ideas of these artists is discussed primarily in terms of the similarities and differences between their art and ideas and those encountered in traditional shamanism and the visionary aspects of Romantic and Gothic art and culture as represented by the work and ideas of eighteenth century English poet and painter William Blake (1757-1827). Each of the twentieth century artists who are considered represents a different strain of the idea of the artist as a visionary. Pollock is discussed in terms of his implicit identification with the artist-shaman. This identification is revealed by the influence Jung's writings and Native American (Indian) art and culture had on his work. Beuys is considered in relation to his explicit adoption of a shaman-like persona. Hlungwani is a practising healer in a traditional community whose art explores an apocalyptic vision of redemption. The comparisons between the artists under investigation and the visionary aspects of traditional shamanism and Gothic and Romantic culture entail an analysis of pictorial elements, subject matter and content in the work of these artists. The intention was to explore those properties in the work and ideas of these artists which correspond to the notion of the artist as a visionary.