Art and Alchemy
The Mystery of Transformation
Distributed for Hirmer Publishers
Lavishly illustrated, Art and Alchemy accompanies an exhibition of the same name at the Museum Kunstpalast in Düsseldorf that brings together historical texts and a selection of artworks that take alchemy as their inspiration. Among the works discussed are Melancholy by Lucas Cranach the Elder, an oil painting that plays on the classical alchemical element; Jan Brueghel the Elder’s The Allegory of Fire; and a variety of works by Dutch painter, draftsman, and printmaker Hendrick Goltzius. Alchemy also continues to play an important role in the works of contemporary artists like Yves Klein, Jörg Lenzlinger, Gerda Steiner, and Anselm Kiefer, and their works are included, as are contributions from contemporary scientists who offer the results of their recent research. In addition to providing an apt theme for artistic interpretation, alchemical practices were often used to produce art, as with the preparation of the old-world pigments leadwhite and vermillion, demonstrating the manifold connections between the two disciplines.
A fascinating collection that explores the disciplines’ many intersections and common concerns, Art and Alchemy also sheds light on how our understanding of the world and our position in it has changed over time.