As the 19th century turned into the 20th, three painters in the north of France began a new movement in art called “spiritualist painting.” Augustin Lesage, Victor Simon, and Fleury-Joseph Crépin each believed he had the ability to communicate with spirits. Indeed, it was spirits who urged these working-class men to paint. Their mystical canvases combine Hindu, Oriental, Christian, and ancient Egyptian influences and motifs, and much of the imagery is elaborately and symmetrically detailed, as if entranced. An influence on the Surrealists, these paintings were collected by the likes of André Breton, Victor Brauner, and Jean Dubuffet. —E.C.
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