Tag Archives: phil baker

The Focus of Life

Fulgur has announced a new edition of Austin Osman Spare‘s The Focus of Life: The Mutterings of Aãos, which notably includes rediscovered drawings that weren’t included in the original publication. The deluxe issue is already sold out, but a facsimile of the 1921 edition is still available. There’s also a launch event where original Spare “magico-erotic drawings, letters, ephemera and further drawings from the book” will be shown at the Store Street Gallery, London, on Nov 25th, 2012.



The Focus of Life: The Mutterings of Aãos, is arguably the most biographically significant of all Spare’s published works. Often obscure, magical and fragmentary, it invites exploration of a strange Nietzschean landscape through what Spare termed ‘the labyrinth of the alphabet.’ But the recent discovery of Spare’s original conceptual folio for the book, once owned by the respected writer E.M. Forster, has revealed an unseen series of powerful magico-erotic drawings – termed by Spare ‘blasphemous Ideographs’ – that provide an important key to understanding the ‘secret ritual of Self-Love’ that underlies this evocative and deeply personal work.

This new issue of The Focus of Life provides readers with a high quality facsimile of the 1921 first edition, together with a full colour facsimile of the newly discovered conceptual folio for the project. Drawings too explicit for publication in 1921 have thus been reunited with the magical narrative, providing new insight for those exploring the artist’s life and magical philosophy. These important works are further augmented with critical essays from Phil Baker and Robert Ansell.


We are also pleased to say there will be a special exhibition and book launch for this title at the Store Street Gallery, 32 Store Street, Bloomsbury (next to Treadwell’s) on Sunday 25th November, 2012. Original drawings from The Focus of Life will be on display, plus letters, ephemera and the incredible suite of magic-erotic drawings. All are welcome.

The Focus of Life (Redux)

Book Launch and Exhibition
November 25th, 2012

12 midday until 5pm

The Store Street Gallery
32 Store Street
London” [via]

Austin Osman Spare: The Life and Legend of London’s Lost Artist

I don’t remember if I’d mentioned this before or not, but I was reminded about this volume recently which you may also have interest in checking out. I think I posted about this to the Fb page when there was a bunch of news about Austin Osman Spare a while back, but anyhow, it’s worth mentioning.

Phil Baker’s Austin Osman Spare: The Life and Legend of London’s Lost Artist, with an introduction by Alan Moore, is available from Strange Attractor.

“London has harboured many curious characters, but few more curious than the artist and visionary Austin Osman Spare (1886-1956).

A controversial enfant terrible of the Edwardian art world, the young Spare was hailed as a genius and a new Aubrey Beardsley, while George Bernard Shaw reportedly said ‘Spare’s medicine is too strong for the average man.’

But Spare was never made for worldly success and he went underground, falling out of the gallery system to live in poverty and obscurity south of the river. Absorbed in occultism and sorcery, voyaging into inner dimensions and surrounding himself with cats and familiar spirits, he continued to produce extraordinary art while developing a magical philosophy of pleasure, obsession, and the subjective nature of reality.

Today Spare is both forgotten and famous, a cult figure whose modest life has been much mythologised since his death. This groundbreaking biographical study offers wide-ranging insights into Spare’s art, mind and world, reconnecting him with the art history that ignored him and exploring his parallel London; a bygone place of pub pianists, wealthy alchemists and monstrous owls.

This richly readable and illuminating biography takes us deep into the strange inner world that this most enigmatic of artists inhabited, shedding new light while allowing just a few shadowy corners to flourish unspoiled.”

You may also be interested in reading the review of the book by Phil Hine.

Of course, there’s also the Austin Osman Spare section at the library, which you may want to check out as well.