Decad of Intelligence

Ithell Colquhoun

Ithell Colquhoun (1906–88) has frequently been considered solely as a footnote to the history of British Surrealism, but her contributions to the development of twentieth-century esoteric art and theory are now being more widely recognized.

The Decad of Intelligence is  an important and poetic work that Colquhoun developed in the 1970s. It is based on the list of sephirotic intelligences set out in the Sepher Yetzirah. Originally, it was conceived to be a small book of ten enamel pieces, each depicting a different sephira and accompanied by a description of their properties. Colquhoun intended this work to be used as a guide to contemplation for understanding the deep nature of each of the sephiroth, both in isolation and in completeness.

Published here for the first time, we are presenting Decad of Intelligence according to the wishes of the artist. A custom made box holds a booklet of texts and loose prints of the enamels. These have been printed in six-colours to best capture the vivid and nuanced qualities of the originals.


The enlightened one vision of the harmony of things. ITHELL COLQUHOUN

Enchanted Modernities: Theosophy, the Arts and the American West

Sarah V. Turner, James Mansell and Christopher Sheer, editors 

It is in America that the transformation will take place, and has already silently commenced. – MADAME BLAVATSKY

With these words, written in The Secret Doctrine in 1888, Helena Blavatsky drew a direct connection to the dynamic energy of nineteenth-century Americanism and the Theosophical Society. She and her successors would specify the American West as the site for a rebirth and re-enchantment of humanity, drawing those seeking spiritual fulfilment outside of organized religion to the dramatic landscapes of California, Arizona, Utah, and New Mexico. The syncretic nature of Theosophy encouraged individualism in belief, fitting well the popular notions of freedom and personal agency used to characterize the American West.

In 2014, the Nora Eccles Harrison Museum at Utah State University staged the first exhibition to explore artistic responses to the confluence of enchanted thought in the American West in the early twentieth century. Building on this research, Enchanted Modernities: Theosophy, the Arts and the American West will be the first publication devoted to these relationships in art and music. Through a series of interlocked contextual essays, interviews, and interpretations of individual works by the exhibition’s curators and invited scholars, this publication will explore the role of Theosophical thought in fostering dynamic cultural networks in the region that redefine the relationship between enchantment and modernism.



Agnes Pelton, Nurture, oil on canvas, 1940

COLLECTION: Nora Eccles Harrison Museum of Art, Utah State University, Logan, Utah, Marie Eccles Caine Foundation Gift.