Beehive Books, the publishing company run by Josh O’Neill, formerly of Locust Moon, is collecting the art of a forgotten master, Herbert Crowley, in The Temple of Silence: Forgotten Worlds of Herbert Crowley . Crowley was a well known figure in the early 20th century New York City avant garde art scene.
He exhibited his work in dozens of venues, including the legendary Armory Show of 1913 alongside Picasso and van Gogh, and in a joint exhibition with Léon Bakst in 1914. He received countless glowing reviews, describing him as a visionary voice exploring a brand new form of art. His cartoons were featured in the now-storied New York Herald Sunday comics section, printed on the reverse side of of Winsor McCay’s masterpiece LITTLE NEMO IN SLUMBERLAND.
However in 1917 he dropped out of sight, taking his artwork with him. A brief selection of his work was reprinted in Dan Nadel’s Art out of TIme volume, but most of it remains unknown. However, O’Neill and Nadel have worked together to put together what happened to Crowley and to assembled a collection of his art.
Our six years of primary-source research have taken us from Texas to Toronto to Zurich. We’ve literally crawled into the ruins of Crowley’s collapsed home in upstate New York, reclaiming incredible artwork from the raccoons and silverfish. Dan Nadel continued his research well beyond the publication of Art Out of Time, and eventually connected us with Crowley’s niece Susi in Switzerland. We spent time with her in Zurich and New York City, digging up a huge amount of correspondence and ephemera, and slowly and painstakingly uncovered his long-forgotten story—a strange and incredible saga that arcs across the planet, from the Americas to Europe to the middle and far East, through the front line of the first World War, the early days of experimental theatre, and the inner circle of the visionary psychoanalyst Carl Jung.
If you’re not sold on this by now, I don’t know what it will take. The book promises to be a lovely, oversized item suitable for poring over and impressing visitors. And the art…well it’s definitely the spirit of the season!