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Austin Osman Spare: Psychopathia Sexualis

Exhibition: Austin Osman Spare: Psychopathia Sexualis
Curated by: Rebecca Fasman, Ryan M. Pfeiffer and Rebecca Walz
Location: Iceberg Projects, 7714 N Sheridan Rd, Chicago, IL.
Dates: March 19th–May 22nd, 2022


Austin Osman Spare: Psychopathia Sexualis

They are not erotic or obscene drawings in the ordinary sense at all…

—Eric Dingwall[1]

Iceberg Projects and the Kinsey Institute at Indiana University, Bloomington, are pleased to present Austin Osman Spare: Psychopathia Sexualis, the first solo exhibition for the artist in North America. This landmark exhibition celebrates the centennial anniversary of a rare folio of erotic drawings from the Kinsey Institute’s Collection. The unveiling of this folio, on view in its entirety for the first time, contributes forty-four new works to the oeuvre of Austin Osman Spare (1886–1956).

The works on display depict numerous tableaus of a grotesque bacchanalia featuring monstrous figures, satyroi, animals, and even portraits of Spare himself. Completed c. 1921–1922, the principal drawings are 15 × 10 inches and executed in the artist’s distinctively sinuous and sharp graphite line work. Spare’s proto-surrealist technique, of first lightly outlining automatic contours and transforming those marks into highly detailed renderings, combined with his virtuosic draftsmanship, is fundamental to his art praxis and marks his contribution to the history of art and modern Western esotericism.

The title of the show is derived from three works titled thus within the portfolio. Due to the nature of their content, the drawings were illegal to possess and display at the time of their creation and were never published in the artist’s lifetime, but found safekeeping within the Kinsey Institute’s collection in 1963.

Coinciding with the exhibition, Fulgur Press has produced a full-color facsimile of the portfolio of Austin Osman Spare drawings from the Kinsey Institute, due for publication on April 30th, 2022. An edition of 1500 copies will be available, with a further deluxe edition, signed by the contributors. In addition to the 44 works by Spare, the book will include texts that explore aspects of the artist’s work through both poetic and critical methods. The essays included are by Robert Shehu-Ansell, Dr. Jeremy Biles, and Elijah Burgher, as well as a Preface by Rebecca Fasman, and an Introduction by Ryan M. Pfeiffer with Rebecca Walz.

The exhibition and publication are part of the Kinsey Institute’s 75th Anniversary celebrations, and the 30th anniversary of the founding of FULGUR PRESS.


Please note, this event is over-subscribed. Details may be found on Eventbrite.

May 14
Opening Reception
7714 North Sheridan Road
Chicago IL60626

May 15
International Museum of Surgical Science
1524 North Lake Shore Drive
Chicago, IL 60610


Robert Shehu-Ansell
Austin Osman Spare and the Grotesque: A Fruitful Violence

Dr. Jeremy Biles
Under the Sign of the Sphinx: Spare, Drawing, and the Anal Erotics of Everyday Life

[1] E. J. Dingwall to Paul Gebhard, 20 April 1958, Kinsey Institute for Sex Research.

Austin Osman Spare
Psychopathia Sexualis

Format: 380mm x 255mm (yes, it’s big!)
Extent: 136 pages
Images: 5 black and white | 48 colour

Hardback and Deluxe Editions will be available

Contributions from Rebecca Fasman (Kinsey Institute), Ryan M. Pfeiffer with Rebecca Walz, Elijah Burgher, Jeremy Biles and Robert Shehu-Ansell.