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Ursula: Issue 5

Alchemy—the magic-realist quest that flourished from antiquity to the 18th century—was inextricably tied to the subject of color and thus to art.

You could think of the winter 2019 issue of Ursula magazine—the first issue of our second year in publication—as our alchemy and color issue, a blast of brightness to last the winter. We follow Bob Nickas to see his friend Mario Diacono, one of the most intellectually adventurous dealers of his day, who put his earnings from the art world into amassing a library of ancient volumes devoted to alchemy and occult philosophy, among the best collections now in private hands. We sit in as Jarrett Earnest talks with the trailblazing historian of color Marcia B. Hall, and we accompany Rebecca Bengal deep into the eccentric pigment business of German chemist Georg Kremer, whose colors have transformed the work of important postwar
artists.

The painter and teacher Hans Hofmann once said: “If creation is not magic, the outcome cannot be magic.” In a new century in which corporate culture and social media tamp down difference and enforce consent, the magic might now need to be a kind that troubles us and rattles our sense of order.

For the issue’s cover story, Paul McCarthy talks with fellow Los Angeles artist Tala Madani about their shared interest in digging into the marrow of meaning through work that strains, even bursts, the bounds of cultural acceptance. As McCarthy describes this process: ‘It’s maybe childlike, but with adult awareness—a place to transgress. You enter it.’ The ability to do so through art is always precarious, and it has rarely been more essential.


Randy Kennedy
Editor in Chief

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Stories In This Issue

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Mike Kelley
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