fig. 5
Roger Kemp

Steiner eurhythmy and modernist visual arts

The aesthetics of eurhythmy as they were first outlined by the modernist dramaturge and Christian mystic, Rudolf Steiner (1861–1925), were cogently realised within Roger Kemp’s own paintings and prints. In an interview filmed in Melbourne shortly before his demise, Kemp claimed:

My inspiration comes from the unseen activity behind all … including music … One time I had hoped to be an opera singer, and I did a study of that on my own: voice production … recording the various registers in the human body, which corresponds to the circle of an octave in music itself … I realised it [musical structure] was in my own body … I worked on the square, and breaking the square twice, you get an octave within [each] break [i.e. eight segments] … What the octave is to music, so the octave is to my painting.1 G. Gunn (interviewer), Roger Kemp – The Painters, the Sculptors: Seventeen Videos of Australian and International Artists, video recording, Melbourne, 1987.

This passage, exemplified in Kemp’s Movement five 1980–81 (fig. 1), draws together several of the main themes that I will explore here – namely musicality, voice, the body, hidden structures and painted form. As it turned out, Kemp did not become a singer or a performing artist (although his daughter, Jenny Kemp, is a theatre-maker and choreographic dramaturge).2 Roger Kemp noted ‘The same principles run right through all the arts. My daughter is producing drama and we talk about it – the timing’, the structural and musical nature of aesthetics overall, ‘everything … is the same’ (see J. Newman, ‘A private cosmic geography’, Australian, 12 October 1982, p. 10; J. Marshall, ‘Portrait of a woman’, IN Press, April 2002, reproduced online at ). He did, however, translate elements of this mystical European theatrical form into Australian modernist painting. Music, the performing body and painting were seen by Steiner and Kemp to act as functions of a harmonious totalising aesthetic form, literally and metaphorically embodying cosmic revelation. By returning the issue of performative embodiment to the discussion of aesthetic modernism in Australia, my aim is to highlight both the continuities – as well as the discontinuities – within modern art in its passage from fin de siècle Europe to post-Second World War Australia.

 

Most of the literature on Kemp acknowledges the influence of Wassily Kandinsky’s theories on the musical nature of abstract art as based on the rhythmic correspondences between emotion, colour and aesthetic form described by the theosophists – and, more specifically, the ideas of the founder of anthroposophy, Steiner.3 For Steiner and Kandinsky, see S. Ringbom, ‘Art in the “Epoch of the Great Spiritual”: Occult elements in the early history of abstract painting’, Journal of the Warburg and Courtauld Institutes, vol. 29, 1966, pp. 386–408; Ringbom, The Sounding Cosmos: A Study in the Spiritualism of Kandinsky and the Genesis of Abstract Painting, Abo, Finland, 1970. For Steiner’s aesthetic principles of embodied eurhythmy, architectural gesamtkunstwerk and theatrical total art, see Steiner [1895], Friedrich Nietzsche, Fighter for Freedom, trans. M. de Ris, New York, 1960; Steiner ‘Richard Wagner and mysticism’ [1907], in Anthroposophy, vol. 5, no. 2, Midsummer 1930, reproduced online at ; Steiner, Eurythmy as Visible Speech: Fifteen Lectures Given at Dornach, Switzerland, 1924, London, 1984; R. Creese, ‘Anthroposophical Performance’, TDR, vol. 22, no. 2, June 1978, pp. 45–74; D. Adams, ‘Rudolf Steiner’s first goetheanum as an illustration of organic functionalism’, Journal of the Society of Architectural Historians, vol. 51, no. 2, June 1992, pp. 182–204; Joseph Beuys and Rudolf Steiner: Imagination, Inspiration, Intuition, NGV, Melbourne, 2007–08; L. Rinder (ed.), Knowledge of Higher Worlds: Rudolf Steiner’s Blackboard Drawings, University of California & BAMPF, 1997. Nevertheless, although critics have established Kemp’s place with respect to Australian and European modernism, the influence of anthroposophy is noted but rarely detailed.4 An exception is Christopher Marshall’s reading of Kemp’s Co-Redemption, see Marshall, A Deep Sonorous Thing: The Newman Collection of Art, Newman College, Melbourne, 1993, p. 29; P. McCaughey, ‘Roger Kemp’, Art & Australia, vol. 8, no. 2, September 1970, pp. 143–156; Monash University, Dept. Visual Arts, Roger Kemp: Cycles and Directions, 1935–1975, Melbourne, 1978, unpaginated; Australian Abstract Art (NGV explanatory guide), Melbourne, 1969; B. Clarke, Roger Kemp on Paper, University of Melbourne, 1975; A. Mackie, ‘Roger Kemp and Meaning in Art’, Art & Australia, vol. 19, no. 2, Summer 1981, pp. 195–200. That Kandinsky and his peers drew upon mystical principles is well known. Their own interpretation of this work tended, however, to be piecemeal, inspired as much by utopian Futurist and Constructivist ideals regarding the transcendental potential of mechanisation as by the mystical tenets of anthroposophy proper.5 On the relation of an ‘organic’ or mystic model of the modernist gesamtkunstwerk, to a more mechanistic approach at the Bauhaus and elsewhere, see M. Turvey, ‘The avant-garde and the “New Spirit”: The case of Ballet mécanique’, October, vol. 102, Fall 2002, pp. 35–58; M. Smith, ‘Schlemmer, Moholy-Nagy, and the search for the absolute stage’, Theater, vol. 32, no. 3, 2002, pp. 87–101. In this respect, the imagery of Kemp’s work recalls more closely the writings of Steiner and of Russian mystic Kazimir Malevich, than of the Bauhaus per se.

The following is an examination of Kemp’s work and the rhetoric that surrounds it as these relate to themes of embodiment and, more specifically, to Steiner’s modernist dramaturgical ideal of a ‘total’ rhythmic art. In Kemp’s terms this may be said to exist within each individual body and which may be found in its purist manifestation within such performed aesthetic forms as music and rhythmic movement. Steiner claimed that his novel dance-drama style of eurhythmy made visibly manifest within the spiritual and material body those cosmic correspondences that existed between universal embodied vocalisations (sounds and rhythms) and aesthetic form. Steiner repeatedly cited Goethe’s adage that: ‘Art is a manifestation of the secret laws of nature, without which they would never be revealed’, adding that architecture and dramaturgy ‘consists in projecting into … space … the laws of our own human body’.6 Adams, pp. 188–192. In the case of Steiner eurhythmy, these formal, harmonic concordances consisted of patterns of movement, gesture, embodiment (poise and bearing) and speech. Kemp realised similar cosmic correspondences in the two-dimensional format of his paintings, tapestries and prints, but – in keeping with Steiner – a sense of musical embodiment remained within the content of the work, its form and within the language proffered by Kemp and others to describe his practice. With its implicit focus upon a rhythmically moving body, Kemp’s aesthetic offers a link between those fin de siècle modernist ideals that shaped his own career and later developments in the history of art such as the action paintings of Jackson Pollock and the Abstract Expressionists, Joseph Beuys (himself strongly influenced by Steiner),7 D. Kuspit, ‘Beuys: Fat, felt, and alchemy’, Art in America, May 1980, pp. 78–89; J. Moffitt, Occultism in Avant-Garde Art: The Case of Joseph Beuys, Ann Arbor, 1988; M. Rosenthal, S. Rainbird & C. Schmuckli, Joseph Beuys: Actions, Vitrines, Environments, Tate, London, 2005. Against Kuspit, for a particularly trenchant political critique of the tendency of such mystical theorisations to erode or ‘displace’ the specificity of cultural history, see B. Buchloh, R. Krauss & A. Michelson, ‘Joseph Beuys at the Guggenheim’, October, vol. 12, Spring 1980, pp. 3–21. Fluxus, and postmodern performance art. Across these diverse styles the place of the dynamic body has remained central. Such a model of art was indeed hinted at by Albert Tucker in his influential essay proposing a ‘haptic’, or partly unconscious, physical-perceptual basis for novel forms of abstraction in the Australian context.8 A. Tucker, ‘Exit modernism’, Angry Penguins Broadsheet, no. 1, 1945, pp. 9–12.

Total art and the anthroposophical body of Steiner and Kemp

Kemp and his supporters have typically been coy regarding the source of the artist’s ideas. In the interview quoted previously, Kemp claimed that the formal qualities of his peers’ creations had little affect on him.9 Gunn, interview; Newman, p. 10. Rather, he was attentive to the essential cosmic themes that lay behind such forms. Kemp therefore professed to have more sympathy with musicians than visual artists. As he observed, ‘I have developed a technique which moves easily through the structure of things’ – and so through all of the arts in a fashion which tended to place music (the ultimate non-representational art for Kandinsky, Steiner and others) at the top of the aesthetic hierarchy.

As Gillian Forwood has demonstrated, from the 1920s Kemp drew on the Post-Impressionists such as the Fauves, Paul Cézanne and Paul Gauguin, as well as being exposed during the 1930s to Cubism, Futurism, de Stijl and the Russian avant-garde, which shaped his practice throughout his life.10 G. Forwood, ‘Roger Kemp and the example of Rupert Bunny’, Art & Australia, vol. 24, no. 3, Autumn 1987, pp. 357–63. Significantly, one of the principal ways in which Kemp received such ideas was through stage designs featured in the Melbourne tours of the Ballets Russes, 1936–40. His early works such as Figures and bridge, 1940–45, featured massed choral groups of monochromatic human figures arrayed within planar architectural settings reminiscent of ballet scenography.11 ibid., pp. 360–1; McCaughey, Roger Kemp: Cycles, cat. no. 29.

Kemp himself did not cite as an influence composer-dramaturge Richard Wagner or philosopher Friedrich Nietzsche. Like his close colleague, artist Leonard French, Kemp more frequently named Wagner’s predecessor Johann Sebastian Bach as the composer whose aesthetic most paralleled the focused, musical emotiveness which both strove for in their work.12 C. Marshall, p. 9; Newman, p. 10; J. Roe, Beyond Belief: Theosophy in Australia 1879-1939, Sydney, 1986, pp. 326–7. It was, however, Wagner and Nietzsche who detailed the modernist ideal of a ‘total art’ or gesamtkunstwerk.13 R. Wagner, Wagner on Music and Drama, trans. H. Ellis, London, 1970; F. Nietzsche, The Birth of Tragedy [1872], trans. R. Speirs, Cambridge, MA, 2006. Kandinsky and the theosophists gave examples of their personal synaesthetic experience of colours brought on at Bayreuth as precedents for their theories of colour as a harmonic series whose significance and relationships echoed unseen, universal cosmic structures found throughout nature.14 Ringbom, ‘Art’, in Sounding Cosmos, pp. 398–406; A. Besant & C. Leadbeater, Thought Forms, London, 1901, pp. 82–4. In a 1907 lecture on Wagnerian dramaturgy, Steiner claimed:

To him … The ‘Music of the Spheres’ … was no mere figure of speech … We are surrounded by worlds of spirit, just as a blind man is surrounded by the world of colour which he does not see. But if a successful operation is performed [to develop such a spiritual sensibility through opera] … colour and light are revealed.15 Steiner, ‘Richard Wagner’.

Kemp discovered Steiner’s elaboration of these cosmic laws at Melbourne’s Christian Science Reading Room during the 1930s, and obliquely referenced them in the titles of series: Movements, 1935–89, Compositions, 1953–76, Rhythms, 1960–79, and Cycles or Circles, 1960–81.16 McCaughey, Roger Kemp: Cycles; H. Kolenberg, Roger Kemp: The Complete Etchings, AGNSW, Sydney, 1991; collections listing, courtesy of the NGV, November 2006; R. Kemp, letter to AGNSW, September 1967, reproduced online at ; M. Horton, (ed.), Present Day Art in Australia, Sydney, 1969, pp. 70, 111. Under the ecstatically transformative, ‘Dionysian’ approach of Wagner and Steiner, all of the elements of aesthetic form assembled within the operatic space, the mise-en-scène, or the architectural frame, echoed the totalising unity of man’s sensory and spiritual existence. Many European modernist architects and dramaturges sought to develop their own version of such a total aesthetic (Émile Jacques-Dalcroze, Adolphe Appia, Erwin Piscator, Walter Gropius, Vsevolod Meyerhold and others) within which the moving, performing body served as the central plastic and musical element.17 Wagner, Jacques-Dalcroze (in collaboration with Appia), Piscator (with Gropius), Steiner and Meyerhold all consulted on plans for a custom-built venue to meet their needs of a gesamtkunstwerk, respectively: the Festival Theatre at Bayreuth, the Bildungsanstalt of Hellerau, Berlin’s Kroll Opera House, and the Goetheanum in Dornach, while Meyerhold’s was never built. Each design featured innovative lighting systems (see T. Levitz, ‘In the footsteps of Eurydice: Gluck’s Orpheus und Eurydice in Hellerau, 1913’, Echo, vol. 3, no. 2, Fall 2001, online at ; C. Kew, ‘From Weimar Movement Choir to Nazi community dance: The rise and fall of Rudolf Laban’s “Festkultur”’, Dance Research, vol. 17, no. 2, Winter 1999, pp. 73–96; W. Gropius and A. Wensinger (eds), The Theatre of Bauhaus, Baltimore, 1961; Creese, pp. 45–4; Adams, pp. 182–204). Walter Burley Griffin – himself a prominent Australian anthroposophist during the 1930s – described his 1918 design for the architecture and decor of Melbourne’s Newman College Chapel (for which a window by French was commissioned) in similar terms; as totalising, harmonious and spiritually uplifting.18 C. Marshall, p. 9. Griffin and his architect/drafter wife Marion were members of the Australian Theosophical Society before switching to anthroposophy in 1931 and founding an organic, anthroposophical community at the Griffin-designed model suburb of Castlecrag, Sydney. Roe, pp. 312, 326, 375–6.

Throughout Kemp’s mature career of the 1950s onwards, he remained dedicated to an abstract form which – in opposition to the more successful Antipodeans and Australian expressionists such as Tucker, Sidney Nolan, Arthur Boyd and Charles Blackman – only rarely included overtly recognisable facial features, spatial dimensions or possible locales.19 McCaughey, ‘Two versions of humanism in the Hattam Collection’, Art & Australia, June 1968, pp. 46–57; B. Smith ‘The Antipodean manifesto’, in B. Smith, The Antipodean Manifesto: Essays in Art and History, Melbourne, 1976; B. Smith, T. Smith & C. Heathcote, Australian Painting 1788–2000, Melbourne, 2001, pp. 311–86. Nevertheless, Patrick McCaughey insisted that even Kemp’s most abstract representations, like Sequence 13, 1968–75 (fig. 2), retained a sense of figuration in their iconography.20 See esp. McCaughey, Roger Kemp: Cycles, cat. no. 85. As a critic, McCaughey had indeed long championed Kemp and McCaughey’s directorship of the National Gallery of Victoria, 1981–87, helped to institutionalise the artist’s status. As McCaughey and others observed, Kemp related several of his key iconographic forms to the human body. The artist claimed, for example, that the square constituted for him a ‘reduction of the human form’ in both its spiritual ‘character’ and in its ‘substance and meaning. It is … compressed’ down to a base element within a cosmic, geometric system or ‘mathematical formula’. Such a rendering may be seen in Movement five, where more overtly figurative cubic forms, such as that in the lower mid register, spiral and twirl into fractured geometric constructs which define the painterly space and its universe as a whole.

 

Kemp also asserted that the cross motif in his work represented: ‘man extending his capabilities in all directions. It is man extending himself in the circle as far as he can go’.21 H. Kennedy, ‘Campaigner against the revolution’, The Age, Saturday Extra, 25 May 1985, p. 16. Although this figure recurred throughout Kemp’s oeuvre in pieces like Ascension, 1960–65 (fig. 3),22 McCaughey, Roger Kemp: Cycles, cat. no. 58. a particularly fine example was his 1968 design for the monumental tapestry (the latter executed under the guidance of his daughter, artist Michel Kemp) – namely Abstract sequence, 2004–05 (fig. 4). Like a piercing ray of divine light, the slanted horizontal of the main cross divides the upper and lower register of the work by a ratio of roughly one to two on the left and by one to five at the right. Each of these smaller, gridded sections contain iconographic elements that echo those found within their near neighbours and across the surface of the totality – notably smaller versions of the main cross itself, each spinning gently within its own circle of possibilities. The cross here serves as an organising principle derived from the human body, which permeates every part of the design at both the macrocosmic and the microcosmic level. Abstract sequence is thoroughly saturated with this version of Vitruvian man found in Steiner and Kemp, here shown as escaping his mundane position within terrestrial geometry through his rendition as a dynamic, endlessly morphing principle of existential embodiment.

Citing the neo-Platonic philosophy of Renaissance scholars such as Marsilio Ficino, critic Bernard Smith observed that Kemp’s aesthetic was organised around the dilemma of

How can man … be harmonized with that perfect geometric form, the sphere? Kemp’s art … is preoccupied with a problem central to western metaphysics. His paintings may be read as pictorial representations of problems which occupied Plato … Leonardo and Dürer: how to express man as one function of a Divine Geometry … Bound always to the cosmic order Kemp’s man is at times Icarus, the aspiring humanist; and at times Christ, the crucified God. But whether rising or falling they always … remain emanations of the eternal wheel.23 B. Smith, ‘Roger Kemp’, The Age, 6 April 1966, in Smith, The Critic As Advocate: Selected Essays 1941–1988, Melbourne, 1989, pp. 231–2./span>

The language employed here echoed Steiner’s ideas in several ways. Steiner originally developed eurhythmy to foster physical and spiritual self-improvement via therapeutic performance.24 See Creese, pp. 59–61. Although from 1902 Steiner was a leading figure in the international theosophical movement, he later led the German chapter in a split from the Anglo-Americans over the place of Indian mysticism within universal revelation. When Kemp began his career in the 1930s, Steiner’s writings had largely displaced those of the theosophists as a source of ideas regarding the formulation of a modern, non-conformist spirituality for Australian intellectuals and artists.25 See Roe, esp. pp. 321–2, 375–6. In 1913 Steiner had established his own anthroposophical society, reformulating in explicitly European Christian terms the group’s principal beliefs, including: the immaterial soul and spirit, which intersected with the material body; reincarnation; human spiritual evolution; and human existence as a cumulative journey of personal revelation building towards a final, transcendent perfection and harmonic oneness with the Christ-spirit. While Steiner conceded that non-Western religions had recognised aspects of divine revelation, it was a singular Christ-spirit that underpinned these phenomena and it was European religious practice and its mystical traditions such as Rosicrucianism and the medieval mystery plays which had most advanced the spiritual evolution of man. Kemp’s use of the cross helped to situate his work within this specifically Christian metaphysical tradition, rather than the more culturally heterogeneous, syncretic traditions of theosophy proper.

Christopher Marshall has highlighted Kemp’s adherence to a recognisably European, Christian aesthetic, observing that the artist ‘had exhibited in the Blake Prize [for Religious Art] almost every year from 1954 … in a manner similar to Leonard French’s and Eric Smith’s paintings, his deep, glowing colours and geometric forms encompassed by thick, dark lines inevitably invited comparisons with the solemn religiosity of Gothic and Romanesque stained glass (a fact of which Kemp was well aware)’.26 C. Marshall, p. 29. McCulloch was one of many who compared the work of Kemp and French to the aesthetic of Chartres Cathedral’s Gothic architecture and stained-glass windows (see A. McCulloch, Encyclopaedia of Australian Art, Melbourne, 1984, vol. 1, pp. 650–1; McCulloch, ‘Religious painting is a restoration’, The Herald, 1963; J. Gleeson, ‘See Kemp at his best’, The Sun, 27 September 1972. Where newspaper references are incomplete or unpaginated (as for McCulloch and Gleeson) material was sourced from: Roger Kemp, Press Clippings (Melbourne: Australian Press Cuttings Agency, 1935–1987), NGA Library, Canberra). Indeed, the mutual reinforcement of the styles of Kemp and French by an atmosphere of sober, Gothic-modernist monochromatic lights, colours and space has become a defining feature in the patronage and display of their work. In 1982 McCaughey commissioned for the National Gallery of Victoria a ‘triptych’ of tapestries adapted from paintings by Kemp from 1960–65, to be woven by a team led by Leonie Bessant in consultation with the artist.27 The original suite is Evolving forms (painting 1960–65; tapestry 1984), Piano movement (painting 1960–65; tapestry 1989) and Organic form (painting 1960–65; tapestry 1991). Together with Abstract sequence (painting 1968; tapestry 2005), Cross (painting 1968; tapestry 2003) and other examples held by the Commonwealth Bank, Melbourne, and Edith Cowan University, Perth, all were produced by the VTW, following the initial supervision of the artist, 1984–87. Kemp’s painting Co-Redemption has also at times been displayed in the Newman College Chapel, lit by French’s windows (M. Kemp, email to author, 4 June 2007; VTW website, Melbourne, ; C. Marshall, pp. 9, 17–30). Work began in 1984 – three years before Kemp’s death and the final year in the completion of architect Roy Grounds 1959 master plan for the Victorian Arts Centre complex (1959–68 for the NGV and 1969–84 for the VAC theatres, for which other works by Kemp were also purchased).28 C. Hamann, ‘Roy Grounds, Frederick Romberg and Robin Boyd’, in H. Tanner (ed.), Architects of Australia, Melbourne, 1981, pp. 129–39; J. Taylor, Australian Architecture Since 1960, Red Hill, ACT, 1990, pp. 13–14, 17, 31–2; P. Goad, Melbourne Architecture, Sydney, 1999, pp. 184, 201, 228, 250–1. The tapestries were to hang beneath the stained-glass ceiling produced by French, 1963–68, in the sometime concert venue of the NGV Great Hall. McCaughey’s commissioning notes state that the works were to offer a ‘powerful expressive and iconographic sequence’, acting as ‘a unifying aspect’ within Grounds’ design.29 D. Whitfield (Acting Curator, Australian Textiles, NGV), emails to the author, 15 January 2007, 5 June 2007. As such, the commission represented an unprecedented instance of the work of Kemp, French and Grounds coming together as elements within a modernist gesamtkunstwerk (orchestrated by McCaughey in this instance), which continues to serve as a precedent for ongoing commissions from the Victorian Tapestry Workshop. Like Kemp, Grounds’s architectural influences reached back to the origins of modernism in Europe and his interest in the ‘Platonic forms’ of circle, square and triangle gave his buildings a sense of geometric, spiritual austerity in harmony with the designs of Kemp and French (‘a simple idea, followed through’ the design, in Grounds’s words). Four of a proposed seven tapestries by Kemp now hang in the Great Hall (figs 4 & 5), while a fifth from the same workshop – based on Kemp’s 1968 Blake Prize winning painting Cross, 2003, – may be seen in Grounds’s Robert Blackwood Hall at Monash University of 1968, which is also illuminated by a glass roundel by French.30 ‘New tapestry for Robert Blackwood Concert Hall’, Monash Memo, 29 October 2003, online at .

Kemp’s anthroposophical leanings did not go unnoticed during his lifetime. In 1966 Kemp donated a small painting of the Crucifixion and the Transfiguration – Co-redemption – to Newman College in recognition of an exhibition speech delivered by the rector of the college, Michael Scott (one of the founders of the Blake Prize).31 C. Marshall, pp. 7, 17–30, cat. no. 2. The piece was one of a series of works showing Christ-like, soaring figures with halos behind their heads rising in flight, and which received a monumental treatment in Ascension. Although Scott’s gloss offered a more overtly Catholic reading of Kemp’s work than Smith’s above, Scott’s references to ‘the mandala’ of the ‘philosophers’ and to cyclic rebirth, together with his somewhat millenarian conclusion, accurately reflected Kemp’s anthroposophical influence.32 ibid., p. 24.

Kemp’s use of the cross also had an anthroposophical character in that its shape and significance recalled the choreographic forms and theory of eurhythmy itself. Steiner’s choreography was based on the tonality and musicality of speech as manifest within the speaking body; the word made flesh. He contended that each letter corresponded with a particular spiritual state of the inner self and that different combinations of words and vocal rhythms concorded with specific ‘soul-states’ of the inner being – the embodied musical intervals which Kemp referred to in the passage at the beginning of this article. These individual aspects of the fully rounded, dynamic personality could be made visible via combinations of curved or straight movements (the luciferic force of a rounded, egoistic self-will versus the absolute, materialist intellectualism of the Ahrimanic soul-state), or gesture (pointing outwards from the torso accorded with the consonant ‘d’ and represented an indicative, ponderous gravity of the soul).33 See Steiner, Eurythm; Creese, pp. 62–71. Such a sense of spiritual and spatial harmony manifest in the body through a balance of curve and line was reflected in paintings like Movement five (fig. 1). Moreover, in building from the soul-states suggested by the sounds of the letters themselves, Steiner’s choreographic vocabulary was particularly rich in gestures and movements in which the arms acted as highly charged, communicative elements, often extended by copper rods, folds of cloth, or stage-lighting effects. This was echoed in Kemp’s description of the fully realised man as one with his arms outstretched to their maximum potential. The long, overlapping diagonals and shafts in works such as Abstract sequence represented those obstacles to spiritual enlightenment which man had to overcome (the Swedenborgian ‘cosmic rat trap’ which Smith identified)34 B. Smith, ‘Selected 21 cover wide range’, The Age, 24 February 1965, p. 5. and the trajectory of the transcendent, dynamic human body, coincident with the Christ-spirit’s infinity, and the beams of light that emanated from this source.

Finally, Kemp followed Steiner and Kandinsky in casting his principles in scientific language. Steiner contended that his scientific description of spiritualism arose from the empirical analysis of psychic and mystical experience, and from those laws perceptible in the nature of these phenomena. Extrapolating from Newtonian science, Goethe’s writings on the physics of light and colour and recent research into the electrical conductivity of nervous tissue and hypnotic perception,35 J. Marshall, essay, fin de siècle parascience, Bakken Library and Museum website, Minneapolis, 2005, ; Besant and Leadbeater. Steiner and his colleagues argued that light was an oscillating, vibrational phenomenon akin to electromagnetism, brain impulses and those unseen aspects of the individual which facilitated human spiritual existence – namely emotion and the soul. Vibrational forces within the ether could be communicated between entities such that music, colour and other phenomena had a concrete effect on body and spirit. Steiner’s dramaturgy was designed to harness and harmonise these vibrating electromagnetic forces by bringing them together as part of a unified spiritual-aesthetic project (scenography, venue, light, colour, sound, music, body), microcosmically nestled within a greater, dynamically vibrating universe.36 See Steiner, Eurythmy; Creese, pp. 46–74; Ringbom, ‘Art’, in Sounding Cosmos, pp. 388–406; Adams, pp. 182–204. The music and light referenced in the work of Steiner, Kandinsky, Kemp and French was particularly significant because these phenomenon recalled in their immaterial form the pure spirit of Christ and the angelic elite and also because the mathematical and physical laws to which they conformed had been particularly well described. Within Kemp’s own descriptions the term ‘music’ took on an almost talismanic quality, functioning as a synonym for ‘structure’ (as in the structural arrangement of musical tones, octaves and harmonies established by the physical properties of a vibrating string), ‘geometry’ and ‘mathematics’.37 See esp. Gunn, interview; Kennedy, p. 16; Newman, p. 10. Nor did Steiner make any distinction between the aesthetic principles of eurhythmy in performance, versus such methods of spiritual-physical self improvement as meditation and guided movement. Eurhythmy did not represent cosmic laws but rather made them manifest in a deeply felt, visible dramaturgical form. In the same way, Kemp was insistent that the development of his style was not simply a consequence of an abstract interest in metaphysics, but was equally an outgrowth of his own, personal attempt to find solutions to concrete spatial and aesthetic problems within his work – a contention with which critics like Alan McCulloch largely concurred.38 Gunn, interview; McCulloch, ‘£27,000 is well-spent’, The Herald, 3 October 1956 (Kemp, press clipping, NGA, unpaginated). Kugler makes a similar point with respect to Steiner’s pedagogical images, produced while he was musing over and physically explaining ideas using a blackboard. Steiner’s blackboard drawings thus provide an arrested image of the cognitive, analytic movements of the anthroposophist’s hand and mind (see W. Kugler, ‘Writing in cosmic images: Rudolf Steiner’s blackboard drawings’, in Rinder (ed.), esp. pp. 23–7).

Roger Kemp and the critical defence of modernism

Kemp was frequently mentioned in the context of debates surrounding modernism in Australia. The artist’s first solo show in 1945 occasioned a lament for the relatively underdeveloped nature of antipodean modernism.39 C. T., ‘Two servicemen in this week’s four art shows’, The Sun, 4 June 1945; C. Heathcote & E. Westbrook, 1956 Melbourne, NGV, Melbourne, 2000, reproduced at ; Gleeson, ‘Painting in Australia since 1945’, Art & Australia, vol. 1, no. 1, 1963, pp. 3–48; McCulloch, ‘Paintings by Roger Kemp’, Meanjin, January 1951, pp. 48–9. Eleven years later Kemp’s work was selected by the Contemporary Art Society for an exhibition promoting Australian modernist painting alongside the official celebrations of the Melbourne Olympics. Similarly, in 1963, the artist James Gleeson identified Kemp as an important modern Australian primitivist in the tradition of Picasso, Gauguin, Cézanne, Nolan and Tucker in an essay for the launch of the journal Art & Australia. By the late 1970s and 1980s, however, a more nostalgic tendency became apparent.40 See M. Gilchrist, ‘Revelations for the observer’, The Age, 11 June 1975 (Kemp, press clipping, NGA, unpaginated); Newman, p. 10; E. Lynn, ‘Kemp and Looby prove cubism still cuts a fine figure’, Australian, 17–18 May 1986, p. 15. During the 1970s performance art, conceptual art, installation art and postmodernism became increasingly prominent and the denunciation of the now-institutionalised aesthetics of modernism was commonplace. It is significant in this respect that the first Kemp retrospective was organised in 1978, with curator McCaughey explicitly representing the artist as an Australian outgrowth of European modernism.41 See McCaughey, Roger Kemp: Cycles. Eight years later NGV curator Ted Gott included Kemp’s work in an exhibition documenting the ‘backlash’ of Australian artists against such recent international trends in art.42 T. Gott, Backlash: The Australian drawing revival 1976–1986, NGV, Melbourne, 1986, p. 7; P. Taylor (ed.), Anything Goes: Art in Australia 1970–1980, Melbourne, 1984, esp. pp. 8–25, 30–45. In contrast to these relatively subtle attempts to recover modernist values via Kemp, McCulloch more militantly claimed that while painting had been

Proclaimed as ‘dead’ in the conceptualised canyons of Manhattan, at Kemp’s 1978 retrospective, modernist ‘easel painting’ here reappears as a mighty force, a continuing strong current in an age-old river that defies all attempts as containment.43 McCulloch, ‘Born 1908 and still growing’, The Herald, 7 September 1978, (Kemp, press clipping, NGA, unpaginated).

Similarly, Ross Luck’s 1975 introduction to a popular survey of Australian modernism cautioned readers regarding the fragility of the victories of modernity in Australia, warning that, ‘The era which accepts all forms of expression’ could ‘have no’ clearly articulated ‘avant-garde’ but only an ‘endless freedom of choice’ such as postmodern eclecticism seemed to promise.44 R. Luck, ‘Introduction’, in K. Bonython, Modern Australian Painting, Adelaide, 1975–80, pp. 7–9. Within this context, Kemp’s ‘glowing prismatic semi-abstracts’ (figs 3 & 4) offered a comforting – and now acceptably modernist – visual representation of harmonious aesthetic mastery.

 

Nevertheless, this opposition between Kemp the modernist and such newer movements as actionism, Fluxus and performance art was never entirely stable. Kemp’s adherence to the modernist ideal of total art as formulated by Steiner and others ensured a sense of embodiment and performance was always present. In keeping with the rhetoric of Steiner and the Futurists, Kemp was insistent on the dynamic quality of his work, striving to represent movement via strong contrasts of colour tonality (‘painting as music’ in Kemp’s terms), forceful lines or shapes (circles, squares, curves, diagonals, swooping figures), or subtle gradations between tones or shapes across the canvas (as in Movement five where the fragmentation of a square led to a circular shape or octagonal intermediary, echoing the Christian and anthroposophical ideals of spiritual metamorphosis and ascension through death and resurrection). It was not only Kemp’s iconography that resonated with the rhythmic vibration of bodies, but also his treatment of the materials themselves. Although some dissenters found Kemp’s considered arrangements more static than dynamic,45 G. Catalano, ‘Symbolically, a misunderstanding’, The Age, 25 June 1986, p. 14. many critics followed Grazia Gunn of the National Gallery of Australia in identifying a kinship between Kemp and the US Abstract Expressionists or action painters via the artist’s use of ‘impulsive’ gestural movements and roughly worked surfaces. Indeed, in pieces like Sequence 13, Kemp’s characteristic structure of square and circle tended to recede (to paraphrase Gunn) behind a blend of expressionistic blots and smears of variegated colour. Other critics attributed a certain muscularity, physical vigour or even an improvisatory sense of execution to Kemp’s work,46 D. Thomas, ‘The week in art’, The Sunday Telegraph, 10 October 1965; M. Eagle, ‘A retrospective look at Roger Kemp’s grand preoccupation’, The Age, 6 September 1978; ‘Entries for the Blake Religious Prize’, The Sydney Morning Herald, 20 September 1964; McCulloch, ‘Roger Kemp outshines his fellows’, The Herald, 14 October 1962; Gilchrist; (Kemp, press clippings, NGA, unpaginated); A. Bond (ed.), Twelve Australian Painters, AGWA, Perth, 1983, p. 3. while Art Gallery of New South Wales curator Hendrik Kolenberg noted the determining role played by, ‘The arc formed by the movement of his arm’ in shaping Kemp’s representations47 H. Kolenberg, ‘Roger Kemp: In celebrated oblivion’, Studio International, vol. 196, no. 1002, October 1983, p. 51. – especially in the artist’s late, large-scale canvases like Movement five and Cosmic music, 1984 (fig. 6), (commissioned as one of six paintings to adorn the VAC State Theatre foyer designed by Grounds). Gott went so far as to identify Kemp as a ‘precursor’ to performance artists such as Mike Parr, given the latter’s ‘realization that huge drawings could capture the immediacy and spontaneity of performance work’ and its ‘emphasis on body gesture’.48 Gott, pp. 39–41. Moreover, Kemp’s etchings like Relativity, 1972 (fig. 7), tended to be repeatedly worked over, heavily incised by hand, generating prints which offered the viewer an almost tactile, physical experience through the presence of thick lines rising from the surface.49 See F. Kempf, Contemporary Australian Printmakers, Melbourne, 1976, pp. 72–3; Kolenberg, Roger Kemp: Complete Etchings, esp. cat. no. 44.

 

One of the most revealing accounts of this tactile, performative quality within Kemp’s representations was provided by Ronald Millar in his popular ‘interpretive guide’ to Australian paintings of 1974. Millar noted the presence in Kemp’s work of ‘halo curves, radiating shapes’ and ‘cadences of oblong marks that rise and fall like rows of tombstones or the serried tabs and keys of a gigantic organ [fig. 6] producing some immensely complex fugue’.50 R. Millar, Civilized Magic: An Interpretive Guide to Australian Painting, Melbourne, 1974, p. 70. Indeed, Steiner had proposed a similar metaphor in his discussion of Wagner as an orchestrator.51 See Steiner, ‘Richard Wagner’. If Kemp’s representations could in this way be figured as gesturing towards a mighty cosmic organ, then the artist emerged as the author of both the organ and the fugue. Instrument and music came to stand for a magnificently vibrating, operatic structure animated by the physical performance and presence of the artist, in his fingering of the stops, the downward push of his arms upon the keyboard, and in his physical and spiritual immersion within the work. Similarly, Kemp’s cosmological presentation of his aesthetic implicitly tied the work of art to the moment of its transformative genesis, no matter how laboured and time consuming it was in practice. In such a conceptualisation the final harmony could be said to only emerge – like a symphony – in the last heroic gesture of performance or brushstroke.52 Kemp was repeatedly characterised as a heroic proponent of modernism, struggling in isolation, largely unrecognised, attempting to resolve plastic problems presented in art. As such, he was typically grouped with Godfrey Miller (also a theosophist) and Ian Fairweather, where the trio were seen as heroically uncompromising abstractionists committed to an individual vision (see, B. Pearce, Parallel Visions: Works from the Australian Collection, AGNSW, Sydney, 2002, pp. 104–113; J. Makin, ‘Roger Kemp, a painter’s painter’, The Sun, 13 June 1973, p. 39; N. Borlase, ‘No easy solutions’, The Bulletin, 7 July 1973; R. Carmichael, ‘Kemp – our quiet master’, The Sun, 13 October 1982; (Kemp, press clippings, NGA, unpaginated); Roe, pp. 322–3. Kemp’s crosses, squares and marks did not simply represent the body of a generalised everyman, but that of the artist as spiritual initiate, striving to harmonise with cosmic rhythms.

This is not to say that Kemp’s fundamental reliance on a Cubist grid should be downplayed to reconstruct him as a neo-Wagnerian precursor to later total-art projects such as those of Parr, Beuys, Fluxus, or postmodern esoteric auteurs like Matthew Barney. Nevertheless, in proclaiming the essential kinship of Kemp to the Antipodeans in representing the full, complex, internal reality of modern human experience, McCaughey himself did not sketch the central position of the body to both approaches.53 McCaughey notes that Kemp’s paintings may be considered to ‘act out rather than illustrate’ mystical or cosmic law – a formulation that is suggestive of a performative interpretation of Kemp’s work. McCaughey, Cycles, ‘Two versions’, pp. 46–57. Tucker famously launched the Angry Penguins Broadsheet in 1945 with an essay in which he associated truly contemporary, ‘modernist’ painting with the ‘haptic’ perception of reality. Haptic experience was derived not from disembodied visual contemplation, but rather the ‘apprehension of … objects and events’ via ‘inner bodily processes; muscular innervations, tactile memory, deep sensibilities’ and ‘unconscious mental processes’.54 Tucker, p. 11. Such a model readily encompassed the idiosyncratic, subjective expressionism of the Antipodeans and the physical and psychic states engendered within Steiner eurhythmy and made visibly manifest in Kemp’s work – as well as the actionism of the US Abstract Expressionists, Pollock, Parr, Beuys, Fluxus and performance art. Kemp emerges in this framework as an artist who, while most closely tied to the ideals of early European modernism, not only helped to promote and preserve such traditions within the Australian context, but also offered a bridge to those forms which came to prominence at the time of his demise. From performance to painting and back to performance again, aesthetics moved – in the terms of Kemp and Steiner – full circle.

Acknowledgements

The author would like to thank the following individuals and institutions for assistance in preparation of this article: Dr Christopher Marshall; Jenny Kemp, Michel Kemp and the Kemp Estate; Petra Kayser, Allison Holland, Danielle Whitfield, Svetlana Matovski, Jennie Moloney and Judith Ryan of the National Gallery of Victoria; Peter Casserly of the Art Gallery of Western Australia; Irena Zdanowicz; the Art Gallery of New South Wales; Helen Hyland and Rose Montebello of the National Gallery of Australia; Steve Tonkin of the Victorian Arts Centre; and Newman College.

Dr Jonathan Marshall is a Research Fellow, Western Australian Academy of Performing Arts, Edith Cowan University, Perth (in 2007)

Notes

1       G. Gunn (interviewer), Roger Kemp – The Painters, the Sculptors: Seventeen Videos of Australian and International Artists, video recording, Melbourne, 1987.

2       Roger Kemp noted ‘The same principles run right through all the arts. My daughter is producing drama and we talk about it – the timing’, the structural and musical nature of aesthetics overall, ‘everything … is the same’ (see J. Newman, ‘A private cosmic geography’, Australian, 12 October 1982, p. 10; J. Marshall, ‘Portrait of a woman’, IN Press, April 2002, reproduced online at <blacksequin.com/assets/text/html_vers/prtofawmn.htm>).

3       For Steiner and Kandinsky, see S. Ringbom, ‘Art in the “Epoch of the Great Spiritual”: Occult elements in the early history of abstract painting’, Journal of the Warburg and Courtauld Institutes, vol. 29, 1966, pp. 386–408; Ringbom, The Sounding Cosmos: A Study in the Spiritualism of Kandinsky and the Genesis of Abstract Painting, Abo, Finland, 1970. For Steiner’s aesthetic principles of embodied eurhythmy, architectural gesamtkunstwerk and theatrical total art, see Steiner [1895], Friedrich Nietzsche, Fighter for Freedom, trans. M. de Ris, New York, 1960; Steiner ‘Richard Wagner and mysticism’ [1907], in Anthroposophy, vol. 5, no. 2, Midsummer 1930, reproduced online at <wn.rsarchive.org/Lectures/Dates/19071202p01.htm>; Steiner, Eurythmy as Visible Speech: Fifteen Lectures Given at Dornach, Switzerland, 1924, London, 1984; R. Creese, ‘Anthroposophical Performance’, TDR, vol. 22, no. 2, June 1978, pp. 45–74; D. Adams, ‘Rudolf Steiner’s first goetheanum as an illustration of organic functionalism’, Journal of the Society of Architectural Historians, vol. 51, no. 2, June 1992, pp. 182–204; Joseph Beuys and Rudolf Steiner: Imagination, Inspiration, Intuition, NGV, Melbourne, 2007–08; L. Rinder (ed.), Knowledge of Higher Worlds: Rudolf Steiner’s Blackboard Drawings, University of California & BAMPF, 1997.

4       An exception is Christopher Marshall’s reading of Kemp’s Co-Redemption, see Marshall, A Deep Sonorous Thing: The Newman Collection of Art, Newman College, Melbourne, 1993, p. 29; P. McCaughey, ‘Roger Kemp’, Art & Australia, vol. 8, no. 2, September 1970, pp. 143–156; Monash University, Dept. Visual Arts, Roger Kemp: Cycles and Directions, 1935–1975, Melbourne, 1978, unpaginated; Australian Abstract Art (NGV explanatory guide), Melbourne, 1969; B. Clarke, Roger Kemp on Paper, University of Melbourne, 1975; A. Mackie, ‘Roger Kemp and Meaning in Art’, Art & Australia, vol. 19, no. 2, Summer 1981, pp. 195–200.

5       On the relation of an ‘organic’ or mystic model of the modernist gesamtkunstwerk, to a more mechanistic approach at the Bauhaus and elsewhere, see M. Turvey, ‘The avant-garde and the “New Spirit”: The case of Ballet mécanique’, October, vol. 102, Fall 2002, pp. 35–58; M. Smith, ‘Schlemmer, Moholy-Nagy, and the search for the absolute stage’, Theater, vol. 32, no. 3, 2002, pp. 87–101.

6       Adams, pp. 188–192.

7       D. Kuspit, ‘Beuys: Fat, felt, and alchemy’, Art in America, May 1980, pp. 78–89;  J. Moffitt, Occultism in Avant-Garde Art: The Case of Joseph Beuys, Ann Arbor, 1988; M. Rosenthal, S. Rainbird & C. Schmuckli, Joseph Beuys: Actions, Vitrines, Environments, Tate, London, 2005. Against Kuspit, for a particularly trenchant political critique of the tendency of such mystical theorisations to erode or ‘displace’ the specificity of cultural history, see B. Buchloh, R. Krauss & A. Michelson, ‘Joseph Beuys at the Guggenheim’, October, vol. 12, Spring 1980, pp. 3–21.

8       A. Tucker, ‘Exit modernism’, Angry Penguins Broadsheet, no. 1, 1945, pp. 9–12.

9       Gunn, interview; Newman, p. 10.

10     G. Forwood, ‘Roger Kemp and the example of Rupert Bunny’, Art & Australia, vol. 24,  no. 3, Autumn 1987, pp. 357–63.

11     ibid., pp. 360–1; McCaughey, Roger Kemp: Cycles, cat. no. 29.

12     C. Marshall, p. 9; Newman, p. 10; J. Roe, Beyond Belief: Theosophy in Australia 1879-1939, Sydney, 1986, pp. 326–7.

13     R. Wagner, Wagner on Music and Drama, trans. H. Ellis, London, 1970; F. Nietzsche, The Birth of Tragedy [1872], trans. R. Speirs, Cambridge, MA, 2006.

14     Ringbom, ‘Art’, in Sounding Cosmos, pp. 398–406; A. Besant & C. Leadbeater, Thought Forms, London, 1901, pp. 82–4.

15     Steiner, ‘Richard Wagner’.

16     McCaughey, Roger Kemp: Cycles; H. Kolenberg, Roger Kemp: The Complete Etchings, AGNSW, Sydney, 1991; collections listing, courtesy of the NGV, November 2006;  R. Kemp, letter to AGNSW, September 1967, reproduced online at <http://collection.artgallery.nsw.gov.au/collection/>; M. Horton, (ed.), Present Day Art in Australia, Sydney, 1969, pp. 70, 111.

17     Wagner, Jacques-Dalcroze (in collaboration with Appia), Piscator (with Gropius), Steiner and Meyerhold all consulted on plans for a custom-built venue to meet their needs of a gesamtkunstwerk, respectively: the Festival Theatre at Bayreuth, the Bildungsanstalt of Hellerau, Berlin’s Kroll Opera House, and the Goetheanum in Dornach, while Meyerhold’s was never built. Each design featured innovative lighting systems (see  T. Levitz, ‘In the footsteps of Eurydice: Gluck’s Orpheus und Eurydice in Hellerau, 1913’, Echo, vol. 3, no. 2, Fall 2001, online at <echo.ucla.edu/volume3-issue2/levitz/levitz1.html/>; C. Kew, ‘From Weimar Movement Choir to Nazi community dance: The rise and fall of Rudolf Laban’s “Festkultur”’, Dance Research, vol. 17, no. 2, Winter 1999,  pp. 73–96; W. Gropius and A. Wensinger (eds), The Theatre of Bauhaus, Baltimore, 1961; Creese, pp. 45–4; Adams, pp. 182–204).

18     C. Marshall, p. 9. Griffin and his architect/drafter wife Marion were members of the Australian Theosophical Society before switching to anthroposophy in 1931 and founding an organic, anthroposophical community at the Griffin-designed model suburb of Castlecrag, Sydney. Roe, pp. 312, 326, 375–6.

19     McCaughey, ‘Two versions of humanism in the Hattam Collection’, Art & Australia, June 1968, pp. 46–57; B. Smith ‘The Antipodean manifesto’, in B. Smith, The Antipodean Manifesto: Essays in Art and History, Melbourne, 1976; B. Smith, T. Smith &  C. Heathcote, Australian Painting 1788–2000, Melbourne, 2001, pp. 311–86.

20     See esp. McCaughey, Roger Kemp: Cycles, cat. no. 85.

21     H. Kennedy, ‘Campaigner against the revolution’, The Age, Saturday Extra, 25 May 1985, p. 16.

22     McCaughey, Roger Kemp: Cycles, cat. no. 58.

23     B. Smith, ‘Roger Kemp’, The Age, 6 April 1966, in Smith, The Critic As Advocate: Selected Essays 1941–1988, Melbourne, 1989, pp. 231–2.

24     See Creese, pp. 59–61.

25     See Roe, esp. pp. 321–2, 375–6.

26     C. Marshall, p. 29. McCulloch was one of many who compared the work of Kemp and French to the aesthetic of Chartres Cathedral’s Gothic architecture and stained-glass windows (see A. McCulloch, Encyclopaedia of Australian Art, Melbourne, 1984,  vol. 1, pp. 650–1; McCulloch, ‘Religious painting is a restoration’, The Herald, 1963; J. Gleeson, ‘See Kemp at his best’, The Sun, 27 September 1972. Where newspaper references are incomplete or unpaginated (as for McCulloch and Gleeson) material was sourced from: Roger Kemp, Press Clippings (Melbourne: Australian Press Cuttings Agency, 1935–1987), NGA Library, Canberra).

27     The original suite is Evolving forms (painting 1960–65; tapestry 1984), Piano movement (painting 1960–65; tapestry 1989) and Organic form (painting 1960–65; tapestry 1991). Together with Abstract sequence (painting 1968; tapestry 2005), Cross (painting 1968; tapestry 2003) and other examples held by the Commonwealth Bank, Melbourne, and Edith Cowan University, Perth, all were produced by the VTW, following the initial supervision of the artist, 1984–87. Kemp’s painting Co-Redemption has also at times been displayed in the Newman College Chapel, lit by French’s windows (M. Kemp, email to author, 4 June 2007; VTW website, Melbourne, ; C. Marshall, pp. 9, 17–30).

28     C. Hamann, ‘Roy Grounds, Frederick Romberg and Robin Boyd’, in H. Tanner (ed.), Architects of Australia, Melbourne, 1981, pp. 129–39; J. Taylor, Australian Architecture Since 1960, Red Hill, ACT, 1990, pp. 13–14, 17, 31–2; P. Goad, Melbourne Architecture, Sydney, 1999, pp. 184, 201, 228, 250–1.

29     D. Whitfield (Acting Curator, Australian textiles, NGV), emails to the author, 15 January 2007, 5 June 2007.

30     ‘New tapestry for Robert Blackwood Concert Hall’, Monash Memo, 29 October 2003, online at <adm.monash.edu.au/records-archives/archives/memo-archive/memo03/20031029/tapestry.html>.

31     C. Marshall, pp. 7, 17–30, cat. no. 2.

32     ibid., p. 24.

33     See Steiner, Eurythm; Creese, pp. 62–71.

34     B. Smith, ‘Selected 21 cover wide range’, The Age, 24 February 1965, p. 5.

35     J. Marshall, essay, fin de siècle parascience, Bakken Library and Museum website, Minneapolis, 2005, <thebakken.org/research/Jonathan-Marshall.htm>; Besant and Leadbeater.

36     See Steiner, Eurythmy; Creese, pp. 46–74; Ringbom, ‘Art’, in Sounding Cosmos,  pp. 388–406; Adams, pp. 182–204.

37     See esp. Gunn, interview; Kennedy, p. 16; Newman, p. 10.

38     Gunn, interview; McCulloch, ‘£27,000 is well-spent’, The Herald, 3 October 1956 (Kemp, press clipping, NGA, unpaginated). Kugler makes a similar point with respect to Steiner’s pedagogical images, produced while he was musing over and physically explaining ideas using a blackboard. Steiner’s blackboard drawings thus provide an arrested image of the cognitive, analytic movements of the anthroposophist’s hand and mind (see W. Kugler, ‘Writing in cosmic images: Rudolf Steiner’s blackboard drawings’, in Rinder (ed.), esp. pp. 23–7).

39     C. T., ‘Two servicemen in this week’s four art shows’, The Sun, 4 June 1945;  C. Heathcote & E. Westbrook, 1956 Melbourne, NGV, Melbourne, 2000, reproduced at <ngv.vic.gov.au/1956/>; Gleeson, ‘Painting in Australia since 1945’, Art & Australia, vol. 1, no. 1, 1963, pp. 3–48; McCulloch, ‘Paintings by Roger Kemp’, Meanjin, January 1951, pp. 48–9.

40     See M. Gilchrist, ‘Revelations for the observer’, The Age, 11 June 1975 (Kemp, press clipping, NGA, unpaginated); Newman, p. 10; E. Lynn, ‘Kemp and Looby prove cubism still cuts a fine figure’, Australian, 17–18 May 1986, p. 15.

41     See McCaughey, Roger Kemp: Cycles.

42     T. Gott, Backlash: The Australian drawing revival 1976–1986, NGV, Melbourne, 1986,  p. 7; P. Taylor (ed.), Anything Goes: Art in Australia 1970–1980, Melbourne, 1984, esp. pp. 8–25, 30–45.

43     McCulloch, ‘Born 1908 and still growing’, The Herald, 7 September 1978, (Kemp, press clipping, NGA, unpaginated).

44     R. Luck, ‘Introduction’, in K. Bonython, Modern Australian Painting, Adelaide, 1975–80, pp. 7–9.

45     G. Catalano, ‘Symbolically, a misunderstanding’, The Age, 25 June 1986, p. 14.

46     D. Thomas, ‘The week in art’, The Sunday Telegraph, 10 October 1965; M. Eagle,  ‘A retrospective look at Roger Kemp’s grand preoccupation’, The Age, 6 September 1978; ‘Entries for the Blake Religious Prize’, The Sydney Morning Herald, 20 September 1964; McCulloch, ‘Roger Kemp outshines his fellows’, The Herald, 14 October 1962; Gilchrist; (Kemp, press clippings, NGA, unpaginated); A. Bond (ed.), Twelve Australian Painters, AGWA, Perth, 1983, p. 3.

47     H. Kolenberg, ‘Roger Kemp: In celebrated oblivion’, Studio International, vol. 196, no. 1002, October 1983, p. 51.

48     Gott, pp. 39–41.

49     See F. Kempf, Contemporary Australian Printmakers, Melbourne, 1976, pp. 72–3; Kolenberg, Roger Kemp: Complete Etchings, esp. cat. no. 44.

50     R. Millar, Civilized Magic: An Interpretive Guide to Australian Painting, Melbourne, 1974, p. 70.

51     See Steiner, ‘Richard Wagner’.

52     Kemp was repeatedly characterised as a heroic proponent of modernism, struggling in isolation, largely unrecognised, attempting to resolve plastic problems presented in art. As such, he was typically grouped with Godfrey Miller (also a theosophist) and Ian Fairweather, where the trio were seen as heroically uncompromising abstractionists committed to an individual vision (see, B. Pearce, Parallel Visions: Works from the Australian Collection, AGNSW, Sydney, 2002, pp. 104–113; J. Makin, ‘Roger Kemp, a painter’s painter’, The Sun, 13 June 1973, p. 39; N. Borlase, ‘No easy solutions’, The Bulletin, 7 July 1973; R. Carmichael, ‘Kemp – our quiet master’, The Sun, 13 October 1982; (Kemp, press clippings, NGA, unpaginated); Roe, pp. 322–3.

53     McCaughey notes that Kemp’s paintings may be considered to ‘act out rather than illustrate’ mystical or cosmic law – a formulation that is suggestive of a performative interpretation of Kemp’s work. McCaughey, Cycles, ‘Two versions’, pp. 46–57.

54     Tucker, p. 11.