Focus on Asian Art Books
WALTER SPIES: A LIFE IN ART
By John Stowell, 2012
The hardcover has 300 illustrations. There is also a Collector’s Edition in two volumes in wood box, 323 illustrations, 95 photographs and three maps.
Several years ago I appraised a painting by Walter Spies (1895-, a multi-talented artist and musician. The painting I appraised was one of his lush Balinese landscapes.
Spies was born in Moscow to German parents and through the vagaries of wars he was exiled to the southern Urals and used this time to learn Arabic, Turkish and Persian. Back in Dresden and Berlin, he designed sets for plays and opera, studied piano with the famous Arthur Schnabel and painted. He had met Kokoschka, Feininger, Dix, Gorky and Klee. Eventually he went to Yokyakarta, played more piano, became enchanted with gamelan music, and in 1927 moved to Bali. Unlike some artists, Spies worked tirelessly with the Balinese on productions of their music, their theatre, and painting and was held in high esteem. But after twelve years war intervened again, the Germans invaded The Netherlands, and Spies was shipped to British India for internment and his ship was bombed in 1942 – he did not survive.
I have not yet read the book but it has a glowing review by Helen Ibbitson Jessup in the June 2013 ORIENTATIONS MAGAZINE. “Stowell has written a masterly account of this rich and densely packed life.” The book includes a list of his surviving paintings.”