The Library of Esoterica explores how centuries of artists have given form to mysticism, translating the arcane and the obscure into enduring, visionary works of art. Each subject is showcased through both modern and archival imagery culled from private collectors, libraries, and museums around the globe. The result forms an inclusive visual history, a study of our primal pull to dream and nightmare, and the creative ways we strive to connect to the divine.
A visual history of Tarot
For many in the West, Tarot exists in the shadow place of our cultural consciousness, a metaphysical tradition assigned to the dusty glass cabinets of the arcane. Its history, long and obscure, has been passed down through secret writing, oral tradition, and the scholarly tomes of philosophers and sages. Hundreds of years and hundreds of creative hands—mystics and artists often working in collaboration—have transformed what was essentially a parlor game into a source of divination and system of self-exploration, as each new generation has sought to evolve the form and reinterpret the medium.
Author Jessica Hundley traces this fascinating history in Tarot, the debut volume in TASCHEN’s Library of Esoterica series. The book explores the symbolic meaning behind more than 500 cards and works of original art, two thirds of which have never been published outside of the decks themselves. It's the first ever visual compendium of its kind, spanning from Medieval to modern, and artfully arranged according to the sequencing of the 78 cards of the Major and Minor Arcana. It explores the powerful influence of Tarot as muse to artists like Salvador Dali and Niki de Saint Phalle and includes the decks of nearly 100 diverse contemporary artists from around the world, all of whom have embraced the medium for its capacity to push cultural identity forward. Rounding out the volume are excerpts from thinkers such as Éliphas Lévi, Carl Jung, and Joseph Campbell; a foreword by artist Penny Slinger; a guide to reading the cards by Johannes Fiebig; and an essay on oracle decks by Marcella Kroll.
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