NINA KARASEK (JOËLE)

b. 1883 Kuttenberg, Czech Lands, Austro-Hungarian Empire
d. 1952 Vienna, Austria

WORKS    |   BIOGRAPHY    |   EXHIBITIONS   |   PUBLICATIONS

SELECTED WORKS

BIOGRAPHY

 

Undoubtedly, Nina Karasek ranges among the most impressive mediumistic artists. Up to a few years ago, her mediumistic work was completely unknown. A happy coincidence brought it to light.

Little is known of Nina Karasek's life. She was born in 1883 in Kuttenberg (Kutná Hora) in Bohemia, studied art at the Kunstschule für Frauen und Mädchen (Art School for Women and Girls) in Vienna, Austria, under Adalbert Seligmann and Tina Blau. Until the 1920s she worked as a landscape, veduta and genre painter in Vienna. Her conventional works were shown at various exhibitions.

When, at the age of 44, she was busy copying a work by Rembrandt in an Italian museum, she fell into an altered state of consciousness. Rembrandt appeared to her, took possession of her arm, and immediately her hand started to draw something quite different from what she had intended. From then on, for the rest of their life Nina Karasek was in “supernatural” contact with a series of great masters like Rembrandt, Dürer, Goya, Raphael, Leonardo, Klimt and others. Under their guidance and inspiration, she drew and painted works "in the style" of the masters. But very soon her works became stylistically more and more unrestricted, showing an enormous range of creative expression, ranging from symbolic and allegorical motifs to bewildering images with a fantastic arsenal of figures and private characters, signs, and symbols, and to frantic, gestural sketches and abstract compositions. From now on, she often signed her works with her esoteric “primordial name” Joële.

Nina Karasek lived completely withdrawn. Almost everything we know of her life, she has noted on the reverse of her drawings: sometimes diary-like notes of her horrible living conditions during World War II, but often strangely impenetrable explanations of the depicted motifs – often as fascinating and mysterious as the drawings themselves. In her works and notes, an exciting private cosmology and mythology unfolds, a drama of hidden powers and principles that flow through macrocosm as well as microcosm.

Shortly after their discovery, Nina Karasek's mediumistic works have found their way into galleries and major international collections.

 

EXHIBITIONS

 

2019 Plants of the Soul: Floral Fantasies between Symbolism and Outsider Art. Wilhelm Hack Museum, Ludwigshafen, Germany, 3/31/2019 – 8/4/2019
2019 Flying High: Women Artists of Art Brut. Bank Austria Kunstforum, Vienna, Austria, 2/15/2019 – 6/23/2019
2019 Alma: Mediums and Visionaries. Es Baluard Museum, Palma de Mallorca, Spain, 2/15/2019 – 6/2/2019.
2012 Entrée des médiums: Spiritisme et art d’Hugo à Breton à la Maison de Victor Hugo. Paris, 10/18/2012 – 1/20/2013
2007 Galleria De Faveri Arte, Feltre, Italy, 6/9/2007 – 7/8/2007
2007 Donne simboliste: Le misteriosofie di Gertrude Honzatko-Mediz e Nina Karasek. Museo del Risorgimento e della Reistenza, Ferrara, Italy, 2/25/2007 – 4/18/2007

PUBLICATIONS

 

Gruber, Elmar R., "Flying Higher: Mediumistische Künstlerinnen." In: Ingried Brugger, Hannah Rieger and Veronika Rudorfer (eds.), Flying High: Künstlerinnen der Art Brut. Heidelberg, Berlin: Kehrer, 2019, pp. 232–235.
Roda, Roberto, "Il simbolismo magico e muliebre di Nina Karasek." In: Roberto Roda (ed.), Eredità del simbolismo: Mitologie, etnografie, esoterismi. Exhibition catalogue. Mantova: Sometti, 2007, pp. 250–59.

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