In the last decade of his life, while living as a hermit-monk in dialogue with the world, Thomas Merton created a body of visual art that has remained largely unknown and little studied in the nearly forty years since his death. With this book, Merton's art at last moves out of the shadows to be appreciated for what it is: a revealing expression of his state of mind and heart in the 1960s, and a visual correlative to his mature works of spiritual writing such as New Seeds of Contemplation and Conjectures of a Guilty Bystander. Roger Lipsey provides a fascinating analysis of the simple and striking images and their significance in Merton's journey. He find in them resonances with Asian calligraphy and American abstract expressionism, and relates them to the influence of Merton's wide circle of friends, which included such diverse figures as the Catholic philosopher Jacques Maritain, the poet Czeslaw Milosz, the Zen scholar D. T. Suzuki, and the artist Ad Reinhardt—among many others.
But the centerpiece of the book is the art itself, presented in a portfolio of thirty-four representative pieces that reflect the changing themes and methods of Merton's work. Each is accompanied by selections from his writings from the 1960s that reflect the inward and outward territories Merton was exploring in the period when these remarkable images were created.
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