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Angelic Mistakes: The Art of Thomas Merton

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9781635610628: Angelic Mistakes: The Art of Thomas Merton
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Hermit-monk, spiritual seeker, social activist, mystic, writer, and artist—Thomas Merton was all of these during his life. As the author of numerous mature works of spiritual writing, such as The Seven Storey Mountain and New Seeds of Contemplation, Merton became best known for his intellectual writings and constant quest to understand his relationship to the divine. 

During the 1960s, the last decade of his life, Merton created a body of visual art that served as a correlative to his writings. The intimate pieces reflected his personal path, revealing the inner workings of his heart and mind as he continued his search for meaning. For nearly forty years after his death, his artwork remained largely unknown and little studied. With this book, Merton’s art moves out of the shadows to be appreciated for what it is. 

Noted author and art historian Dr. Roger Lipsey offers an insightful examination of the varied influences on Merton’s artistic work. Asian calligraphy and American abstract expressionism both played key roles, as did Merton’s wide circle of friends, including such diverse figures as the Catholic philosopher Jacques Maritain, the poet Czeslaw Milosz, the Zen scholar D. T. Suzuki, and the artist Ad Reinhardt—among many others.

The centerpiece of the book is of course the art itself, presented in an attractive portfolio of thirty-four representative pieces, each accompanied by selections from Merton’s own writings. Lipsey provides an insightful analysis of the simple yet striking images and their significance on Merton’s lifelong spiritual journey. 

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About the Author:
Roger Lipsey earned a Ph.D. in the history of art at the Institute of Fine Arts, New York University. A director of the parent company that publishes the journal Parabola, he has written on art and spirituality for many years. He is the author of The Spiritual in Twentieth-Century Art, now in its second edition. He lives in Garrison, New York.
Review:

"Kudos to Roger Lipsey for opening up Thomas Merton's visual art, which has been largely ignored until now by his reading public as well as by most Merton scholars and interpreters of his work. Our gratitude for Angelic Mistakes is boundless, both to the author and the publisher. This richly illustrated volume is the best introduction to the mature visual world of Thomas Merton, which deserves a wide audience." —Brother Patrick Hart, Thomas Merton's secretary, editor of The Intimate Merton
"It is not easy to write about the deeply wordless world from which these haunting images emerged, but at last the challenge to think out loud about this neglected side of Merton has been taken up by Roger Lipsey. Breaking new ground, Lipsey thoughtfully explores aspects of Merton-as-artist." —Jim Forest, author of Living with Wisdom: A Life of Thomas Merton
"This astonishing book looks at an aspect of Merton's life that has been almost ignored—his art—and shows, with copious quotations and profound insight, that it was a visual expression of his prayer. Here we have access to that wordless, imageless experience that was nearer to him than life itself. It is a book to be read slowly, quietly, and repeatedly: a wonderful book." —Sister Wendy Beckett, host of the PBS series Sister Wendy's American Collection
"A remarkable piece of work and a remarkable piece of publishing." —Phyllis Tickle, author of Prayer is a Place: America's Religious Landscape Observed

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9781590303139: Angelic Mistakes: The Art of Thomas Merton

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