Artists and designers create Tarot decks for today

Dior’s spring 2021 haute couture collection debuted last January with a delightful short created by Matteo Garrone that opens with a tarot reading that transports the viewer to a mysterious castle. featuring well-dressed characters from the deck – The Fool, the Empress, a personified Sun and Moon – who act as signposts as she walks down one corridor after another. The short, and the look in which it is presented, was designed by the brand’s art director, Maria Grazia Chiuri, partly inspired by Italo Calvino’s 1973 novel, “The Castle of Spots” come to pass”, in which the characters lose the ability to speak and can communicate only through tarot cards, and this led Christian Dior to become interested in the art of divination, in which he particularly believed in precarious days of World War II.

By the 1940s, tarot had become a centuries-old practice – it is believed to have originated in Central Europe in the 1400s, and the oldest surviving cards appear from decks made by Filippo Maria Visconti, The Duke of Milan commissioned it in the mid-15th century, and his successor, Francesco Sforza, and features detailed illustrations of aristocratic backgrounds and gilded backgrounds. These and other decks became status symbols among upper-class Italians, who used them to play an early version of Bridge. The practice spread to France in the 18th century, and the cards were assigned mystical meanings as occultists, among them Rabbi Antoine Court, attempted to make a connection between tarot and thought. spiritual thought of the ancient Egyptians. The connection proved unreal, but the tarot still accepted a life of its own, with a growing number of mystics – influential British occultists such as Aleister Crowley and Arthur Edward Waite among them them – use its deck to predict the future: such as the Death card. , can symbolize an upcoming period of radical change and rebirth, while the Temperance card can suggest a need for balance. The deck that Waite devised, first printed in 1909, has long been considered a good place to start for those just getting acquainted with the major and minor arcana, terms used to describe truss cards and their respective decks.

It should come as no surprise that the tarot was moved into the 20th century – along with the advances of modernity bringing with it a lot of conflict and confusion – or that its popularity has increased over the past few years during which the pandemic confused the opinion of most people. the normal order of things. The search for meaning and direction has never seemed out of date and feels especially urgent at the moment. And even if we don’t really believe in the cards, they seem to possess a power of imagination that, in so much uncertainty, we can hardly access. Who wouldn’t welcome any kind of indication of where we might be headed right now?

One group that is frequent and particularly interested in tarot are the artists. After all, the deck is also a kind of art object, and the artists themselves are involved in the work of creating meaning. In the early 1970s, Salvador Dalí began working on a deck of cards featuring himself as a magician and his wife, Gala, as the Empress. In 1979, Niki de Saint Phalle began building his Tarot Garden, a group, in the Tuscan hills of Italy, with 22 large-scale concrete sculptures inspired by via tarot card images and decorated with mosaic tiles and reflections. Featured is “The Empress”, an opulent large-breasted sphinx decorated with a crown, once considered the residence of artists.

Now, a new generation of artists and designers is channeling their creativity by creating their own decks that reflect the current era. New York-based artist Tattfoo Tan created New Earth Resilience Oracle Card is part of his New Earth project, a teaching-based, role-playing piece that guides users in both practical skills and mental modalities to help them combat climate change. While we may associate the tarot with celestial bodies, for Tan it can be a tool to stay connected with nature and the seasons here on earth. Accordingly, his deck features minimalist black and white sketches of fog, winter, and drought. For her part, Indiana-based artist Courtney Alexander is linking tarot to representative politics. Wondering how many Black tarot decks, or decks depicting Black characters, were created by white artists, she set out to create a deck that felt more authentic. . As a result she Onyx Dust II deck, cards printed with Alexander’s ornate multimedia collages, works rooted in Black diasporic history and popular culture. She named the King of Swords, traditionally a symbol of wisdom, the name Papa Blade, the face of Neil deGrasse Tyson and the eyes of George Washington Carver, and the Queen of Cups, ruler of the emotional realm. , the name Mama Gourd, the face of Missy Elliott and the eyes of poet and activist Nikki Giovanni. “The story of Blackness is revered,” Alexander said, “and considered powerful.”

Other decks nod to different artistic movements. For artists from Michigan, Linnea Gits and Peter Dunham’s Pagan Otherworlds Tarot deck, Gits studies the work of Renaissance artists such as Albrecht Dürer and then paints an original oil painting for each card. (Dunham created the letter.) However, the overall effect is rather eerie – her grim reaper is a skeleton with arrow wings stomping on the head of a buried woman holding it. a flower – and recall the practice of early 20th-century Surrealists to combine seemingly disparate objects in hopes of achieving hidden psychological truth. (Gits and Dunham were among the artists included in the “Cartomancy. Library of Esoteric” [2020]Jessica Hundley, Johannes Fiebig and the history of visual arts by Marcella Kroll.) And the artist Isa Beniston set out to create her Gentle thrilling fortune-telling deck while quarantining in her Los Angeles apartment in 2020. Unable to access her studio and needed a project, she picked up fresh supplies at a nearby store and created super colorful, Fauvist card versions using gouache. She’s also involved in the salon’s tradition, and hopes her project will inspire not only self-knowledge but solidarity. “I think people have the most fun using the deck with friends,” she says. “And I love the idea that my work can be used to help build community. That’s all a real artist can hope for.” Artists and designers create Tarot decks for today

Fry Electronics Team

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