Sp21 de la Cruz - HISTORY 230 - Occult Internationalism: The Global Spread of Secret Knowledge

(Click on any image below to reach a larger image and the object record). Don't be nervous if you are not sure where to start in "reading" a work of art! If it's a helpful place to start, try starting with identifying the Elements of Art: 

Portable Network Graphics (PNG)
Some other things to consider when looking at these images and answering the questions:

Symbols—things that have a specific meaning or that represent something else—are a powerful part of how we understand the visual world. We recognize symbols by using personal knowledge gained through memory and lived experience.

Context: Culture and history influence how and what we see. Much of our reaction to an image depends on the context we see it in. What was the artist trying to convey and how does this relate to the time and place in which the work was created? Similarly, how do the values and beliefs of our own society shape our understanding of an image?

Meaning: What is the artist's meaning or purpose for this work? We begin to understand the purpose of the artwork, discover the artist's intended meaning, and expand on the number of other interpretations based on the composition, memory, life experiences, history, culture, etc.


This hand colored lithograph shows a chaotic scene with three, masked figures at the lower left surrounded by a variety of sea creatures: squids, octopusus, sharks and turtles. 
Ann McCoy
hand colored lithograph on paper
42 in x 30 1/16 in (106.68 cm x 76.36 cm)
Gift of Professor and Mrs. Edward J. Mitchell
This print shows a chaotic scene with a white skeleton in the center. In the upper left, there are a series of sea creatures, including a grey colored shark, pink colored squids and two octopuses in shades of orange. At the bottom of the print, the skeleton is surrounded by a large lizard, skulls, and other figures. A moon and stars are in the upper left corner. The print is signed (l.r.) "Underground Ann McCoy" and numbered "18/100" in red pencil.
Ann McCoy
The Underworld
hand colored lithograph on paper
42 in x 30 in (106.68 cm x 76.2 cm)
Gift of Professor and Mrs. Edward J. Mitchell
Horizontally positioned statue in the shape of an animal. The back of the statue is flattened with a slight concave in the middle. The body is decorated with a carved diamond design consisting of intersecting lines. and the tail has a rectangular shape. There is a metal ring wrapped around the neck in addition to multicolored beads. There is also a piece of fiber attached to the neck of the statue with a small bell-shaped wooden piece attached to the end of the fiber.
Friction Oracle
wood, metal, glass beads, and cowrie shells
2 15/16 in x 13 3/4 in x 2 1/2 in (7.5 cm x 35 cm x 6.4 cm)
Gift of Dr. James and Vivian Curtis
This imposing, anthropomorphic Songye <em>nkisi</em>, or power figure, stands upright and features an assemblage of man-made, vegetal, and animal components. Most strikingly, a large antelope horn protrudes vertically from the figure’s head, and two animal teeth have been affixed to the corners of its mouth giving the appearance of fangs. Bearing wide, alert eyes, this fearsome figure is enswathed by civet and monkey skin. Horns, including a smaller one inserted into a larger one, have been tightly strapped around the figure’s chest. Also attached to the figure are seed pods, an ax blade, and glass beads. A medicine bundle carrying feathers and a horn hangs behind the figure's back.
Power Figure
wood, civet and monkey skin, woven vegetable fiber, feathers, seed pods, animal teeth, antelope horns, glass beads, metal
24 7/16 in x 11 13/16 in x 9 13/16 in (62 cm x 30 cm x 25 cm)
Gift of Candis and Helmut Stern
Francisco José de Goya y Lucientes
The sleep of reason produces mosters (El sueño de la razon produce monstruos)
etching and burnished aquatint on paper
12 in x 8 in (30.48 cm x 20.32 cm);7 7/16 in x 4 11/16 in (18.89 cm x 11.91 cm);8 1/2 in x 5 7/8 in (21.59 cm x 14.92 cm)
Gift of Kurt Delbanco in honor of Nicholas Delbanco, and partial purchase with the funds from the W. Hawkins Ferry Fund
Carved wooden figure of a human. The umbilicus protrudes and is concave, which would have held magical/medicinal substances. The figure is posed with crossed legs and one hand supporting the head. The face is detailed, with glass eyes. A metal ring was placed around the neck of the figure. The top of the head is empty, but possibly contained magical substances as well. 
Vili (Kongo)
Power Figure
wood, woven cotton fiber, glass, split cane, elephant hair, metal, and resin
9 3/16 in x 3 7/8 in x 3 5/8 in (23.3 cm x 9.8 cm x 9.2 cm)
Gift of Candis and Helmut Stern
Landscape scene with three figures (two standing and one kneeling) near a large sculpture of a God with a figure on horseback in the distance.  Image consists of sharply cut and defined elements.<br />
Paul Gauguin
Maruru (Offering to the Gods)
woodcut on paper
10 in. x 16 in. ( 25.4 cm x 40.64 cm )
Museum Purchase
Image of a small wood structure, covered in pennies, containing framed dollar bills, coins, jewels, and photos of Warren Buffett, Bill Gates, and Amancio Ortega.&nbsp;
Garin Horner
Detail From: A Secret that Brings Prosperity and Wealth
archival pigment print on paper
18 ½ in x 17 in (46.99 cm x 43.18 cm);15 ½ in x 14 in (39.37 cm x 35.56 cm)
Gift of the artist
A blurred image of a nude figure bending forward, the arms nearly reaching the ground.
Bill Jacobson
Song of Sentient Beings #1612
gelatin silver print on paper
36 in x 28 in (91.4 cm x 71.1 cm);36 in x 28 in (91.4 cm x 71.1 cm)
Museum purchase made possible by the W. Hawkins Ferry Fund
Five men and two goats standing around wooden shelves in a forest. The shelves are lined with jars filled with nails and the men hold tools.&nbsp;
Garin Horner
Drive Deep the Magic Nail
archival pigment print on paper
17 in x 22 in (43.18 cm x 55.88 cm);12 ¼ in x 18 ¾ in (31.12 cm x 47.63 cm)
Gift of the artist
Albrecht Dürer
Melencolia I
engraving on paper
9 11/16 in x 7 9/16 in (24.61 cm x 19.21 cm);22 ⅛ in x 18 ⅛ in (56.2 cm x 46.04 cm)
Museum Purchase
Image of a man wearing a white robe and hat crouching on a rug surrounded by filing cabinets in front of three figures on a shrine.&nbsp;
Garin Horner
Saint Michael's African Warrior Altar
archival pigment print on paper
17 in x 22 in (43.18 cm x 55.88 cm);13 in x 19 in (33.02 cm x 48.26 cm)
Gift of the artist


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Last Updated

May 20, 2021 2:01 p.m.


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