Graphic and symbolic creativity of authors linked to new forms of spirituality at the turn of the 20th Century in Europe. Art as a mystical process of healing and social emancipation.

[Art, History, Social Sciences, Psychology, Philosophy, Theology, Anthropology, Criticism, Feminism]

  • Place
    Faculty of Fine Art, UB [Thursday, 14 October]
    Faculty of Geography and History, UB [Friday, 15 October]
  • Dates
    October, 14-15, 2021
  • Seminar Directors
    Dr. Pilar Bonet Julve – Dr. María José González Madrid / Department of Art History, UB
  • Organised by:
    [V¬W] Visionary Women Research Group –Josefa Tolrà Foundation
    Secretary: Sandra Martínez – María Muñoz / Comunication: Albert Salvador – Candela Sol
  • Collaboration and Support
    Dean of Faculty of Fine Art / Research Commission, Faculty of Geography and History / Dept. Art History / IN>TRA2 Arts Research Group / Office of the Vice President for Heritage and Cultural Activities / Josefa Tolrà Foundation / A*Desk, Criticism and Contemporary Art / MAV, Mujeres en las Artes Visuales (Women in Visual Arts)/
  • Registration
  • + Information

We are proud to present at the University of Barcelona the first International Seminar dedicated to the study of the graphic creativity – the drawings – of visionary women connected to new forms of spirituality, secular and feminist, that spread across Europe at the end of the nineteenth and beginning of the twentieth century. We want to recuperate the implacable and emancipating spirit of these utopian philosophies, focussing on the cultural context and its creative processes. Spiritual and political practices that weave relations between social Christianity and Eastern traditions, widely welcomed amongst the workers and the suffragettes: Modern Spiritualism, Spiritism, Theosophy and Anthroposophy, among other forms of unregulated transcendence. The legacy of artists, like Hilma af Klint, Emma Kunz, Madge Gill, Nina Karasek or Josefa Tolrà, are now driving new generations towards artistic, scientific and humanist stories, instigating a new wave of feminism. In this seminar we propose to attend to the mystical origins of their creativity, their holistic working processes and the mantle of the “life mission” they took on.

We share the experiences of creators who were “Visionaries in life, artists after their death”. Amongst whom is Josefa Tolrà (Cabrils, 1880-1959), the most important medium of the first half of the 20th century in Spain and whose work forms part of the Museo Nacional del Prado, MACBA, Musée LaM de Villeneuve-d’Ascq and Centre Pompidou in París. Among other international authors, we will also offer new readings in the seminar about the life and work of the clairvoyant artists Fina Miralles (Barcelona, 1950) and Silvia Gubern (Barcelona, 1941).

A previous session of talks about the Art of Visionary Women was held in February 2019 at the Museum of Modern and Contemporary Art, Es Baluard in Palma (Mallorca), to coincide with the exhibition of European artists “ALMA. Mediums and Visionaries” curated by Dr. Pilar Bonet. It was the public presentation of the investigations of the research group Visionary Women Art [V¬W], linked to the Josefa Tolrà Foundation. The encounter made known authors not considered by history, presenting the visual, textile and literary creations of 17 women, born towards the end of the 19th and beginning of the 20th Century, amidst the turbulence of an agonizing world. The majority of them had no academic training and made drawings, embroideries or wrote texts as a process of encounter with their interior world, within the refuge of their domestic space, be it the family home or a place of psychic asylum. The works exhibited came from important international museums and collections. Never before had this type of heterodox creations been brought into circulation without making use of the terms Art Brut, Outsider art or the Art of Madmen, our research instead called attention to the social and cultural contexts of these new forms of spirituality at the turn of the century and the psychic experiences of these authors in their condition as women. Terms such as Mystic art, Mediumistic art, Extraordinary art, Visionary Women Art or Healing art activated other

dimensions of reading and interpretation of the creativity of women outwith the canons and eluded by the history of art.

The exhibition in Palma presented a preliminary research session, to great success and to a broad public linked to contemporary art, textile art, psychology, occultism, symbolism, feminism and theology. We note that in the 21st Century the affirmation of the Swiss researcher, healer and artist Emma Kunz (1892-1963), when she predicted «My work is destined for the 21st century» has come true. Now, fully aware of the final agonies of the Modern World, the wisdom of these women, their creative endeavours and the choice of a life that germinates in the politics of affection, lead us towards a new humanism. Cecilia Alemani, as the director of the next Venice Biennale (2022), confirms this by uniting the life and work of the visionary artist Leonora Carrington with the new generations: “How is the definition of the human changing? Many artists envision the end of anthropocentrism and celebrate a new communion with the non-human, with the animal world and with the Earth”.

This international, in-person Seminar, is totally necessary to broaden perspectives about the art of clairvoyant women and to share knowledge. The contents of the investigations brought together in these sessions gather together a broad field of studies and interests offering a political turn in modern historiography a great vector of force, positioning a new wave of feminism. Over the last few years, this field of study has been of the utmost relevance, receiving attention from researchers, museums and artists. The Seminar at the University of Barcelona incorporates specialists from areas that are fundamental to deal with the life and artistic legacy of women not integrated within the historic avant-garde that we need to analyse from the reta-guard of the domestic space and the broader culture of women.

They delved into their interior to heal the wounds of the soul and let themselves be guided by sisterhood as a form of practical rationalism at the service of humanity. They knew that the sphere of the domestic space is the primordial place of knowledge and for the self-management of knowledge, aware that the sciences, the arts and philosophy were tools that guided their lives and relationships but were not pedestals of power or forbidden territories. We want to continue to go beyond the present, by way of the visionaries of the first half of the 20th century and their descendants, who point in a prescient way to other possible futures; more ethical and less anthropocentric. We have the mission to lead and bring new studies and a humanistic turn to this area of art made by women, with a talent for clairvoyance and a vocation for healing, born before (and after) 1950. All this contributes to generating new modes of thought in fields that are undoubtedly complex in their symbolic and political depth. The future has already arrived.

Dr Pilar Bonet Julve
Dr Maria José González Madrid
Visionary Women Research Group [V¬W]


  • Dr Andrea Graus, Centre Alexandre Koyré –Centre National de la Recherche Scientifique. París
  • Vivienne Roberts, The College of Psychic Studies. London
  • Sara Petrucci, Université de Genève
  • Dr Pilar Bonet Julve, University of Barcelona
  • Dr Assumpta Bassas Vila, University of Barcelona
  • Dr Maia Creus Castellana, Visionary Women Research Group [V¬W]

ENG Seminario Internacional Arte de Mujeres Visionarias-breve

    • Dr Graciela García, artist and writer [V¬W]
    • Dr Jo Milne, artist and lecturer -EINA Centre Universitari de Disseny i Art- [V¬W]
    • Dr Judit Vidiella, artist and lecturer -Escola Universitària ERAM de Girona- [V¬W]
    • Dr Mapi Rivera, artist and writer [V¬W]
    • Raisa Maudit, artist and writer [V¬W]
    • Ester G. Mecías, artist [V¬W]


Emma Kunz, Olga Fröebe Kapteyn, Hilma af Klint, Hélène Smith, Georgiana Houghton, Madge Gill, Josefa Tolrà, Fina Miralles, Sílvia Gubern, Anna Mary Howitt, amongst others.

Day 1
Thursday, 14 October 2021

Place: Aula Magna, Faculty of Fine Art, Barcelona. Barcelona Calle Pau Gargallo, 4

080028 Barcelona Timetable: 10:00-14:00 / 16:30-19:30


Reception and hand-out of informative dossier.


  • Dr María José González. Universitat de Barcelona: Seminar Introduction
  • Dra. Pilar Bonet Julve, Universitat de Barcelona: Introduction to the research group [V¬W]: 11:30-12:30

• Sara Petrucci, Université de Genève:

Emma Kunz / Olga Fröebe Kapteyn. Art is a Ritual? (English) [45 min] A written translation will be provided.


Coffee break

• Dr. Maia Creus:

The Drawings of Fina Miralles. Seeing the Invisible-Visible. (Spanish) [45 min]


Free time. Lunch.


Presentations, research projects:

  • Dr Judit Vidiella (The Reception of Spiritism in Europe)
  • Ester G. Mecias (Artists that cure the soul, Hilma af Klint)
  • Dr Mapi Rivera (Artistic Creation and the Visionary Experience) (Spanish)
    [15 min each speaker]
  • 17:30-18:00

Coffee break-bookshop (Table with specialised publications)


Presentations, research projects:

  • Dr Graciela García (The serpentine in Art Brut)
  • Dr Jo Milne (The representation of the invisible in science and art)
  • Raisa Maudit (Process of artistic research, magic and anarchism) (Spanish) [15 min each speaker]

Day 2
Friday, 15 October 2021

Place: Aula Magna, Faculty of Geography and History, Universitat de Barcelona. Calle Montalegre, 6

08001 Barcelona Timetable: 9:30-14:30h

• Dr Pilar Bonet Julve, Universitat de Barcelona:

Medium and Artist: Josefa Tolrà (Cabrils, Barcelona 1880-1959) (Spanish) [45 min]

• Dr Andrea Graus, Centre Alexandre Koyré –Centre National de la Recherche Scientifique- Paris:

Mediums and Doctors in the face of the Visionary Experience (1860-1910) (Spanish)

[45 min]

ENG Seminario Internacional Arte de Mujeres Visionarias-breve


Coffee Break

• Vivienne Roberts, The College of Psychic Studies-London:

Britain’s Visionary Sisters in Art (English) [45 min] A written translation will be provided.

ENG Seminario Internacional Arte de Mujeres Visionarias-breve

• Assumpta Bassas, Universitat de Barcelona:

Crystallize riddles. Silvia Gubern and reverse glass drawing and painting (Spanish) [45 min]

Round table discussion of the Seminar: Dr María José González, Dr Judit Vidiella, Dr Julia Ramírez,

Dr Diana Padrón (Spanish)


[Registration required, due to capacity restrictions]
Some of the presentations will subsequently be available on-line.

+ Information:

+ Registration:

+ RRSS -Instagram

@visionarywomenart @josefatolra