Skip to main content
Shopping cart: items Cart

Supernatural America

The Paranormal in American Art

America is haunted. Ghosts from its violent history—the genocide of Indigenous peoples, slavery, the threat of nuclear annihilation, and traumatic wars—are an inescapable and unsettled part of the nation’s heritage. Not merely in the realm of metaphor but present and tangible, urgently calling for contact, these otherworldly visitors have been central to our national identity. Through times of mourning and trauma, artists have been integral to visualizing ghosts, whether national or personal, and in doing so have embraced the uncanny and the inexplicable. This stunning catalog, accompanying the first major exhibition to assess the spectral in American art, explores the numerous ways American artists have made sense of their own experiences of the paranormal and the supernatural, developing a rich visual culture of the intangible.

​Featuring artists from James McNeill Whistler and Kerry James Marshall to artist/mediums who made images with spirits during séances, this catalog covers more than two hundred years of the supernatural in American art. Here we find works that explore haunting, UFO sightings, and a broad range of experiential responses to other worldly contact.

320 pages | 200 color plates | 9-1/4 x 11 | © 2021

Art: American Art, Art--General Studies

Reviews

"The first major exhibition to examine the relationship between American artists and the supernatural in all its forms."

Fortean Times

"Numerous artists have been inspired by ghosts and the paranormal over the centuries but rarely have these ghostly works been examined in a scholarly fashion. Robert Cozzolino, a curator at the Minneapolis Institute of Art, brings together more than 150 works in an ambitious touring show covering more than two centuries of art linked to the supernatural."

Art Newspaper

"The first major museum exhibition to take a comprehensive look at the relationship between American artists and the unseen forces that lurk in our cultural history."

Art and Object

"[Supernatural America's] thoroughly researched and illustrated essays by scholars and artists (including John Jota Leaños and Renée Stout) alternate with accounts by practitioners, including an astrologer and a witch; all of the contributions are treated seriously and respectfully. Cozzolino aims to offer new ways of seeing, and new entry points for comprehending how artists have given physical form to intangible visitations or experiences (spanning the realms of UFOs, séances, and spirits of Indigenous or enslaved peoples). . . . VERDICT Whether or not readers believe in the supernatural, they’ll be impressed by the erudition of these texts and the wide range of beautifully presented artworks."

Nancy J. Mactague | Library Journal

"This exhibition catalogue covers more than 200 years of visualisations of paranormal phenomena and otherworldly contact,
demonstrating a search for healing from the country’s violent past by embracing the uncanny."

The Bookseller

Table of Contents

Director’s Foreword / Katherine C. Luber

INTRODUCTION: AMERICA IS HAUNTED / Robert Cozzolino
DESTINIES MANIFEST / John Jota Leaños
Hauntology / María del Pilar Blanco
UNCANNY SPACES / Sarah Burns
Phantasmagoria / Wendy Bellion
“THINGS NOT TANGIBLE”: PORTRAITS, SITTERS, AND THE SUPERNATURAL / Rachael Z. DeLue
Ghosts in the Machines / Brandon Hodge
HOW TO PAINT A GHOST AROUND 1900 / Adam M. Thomas
THESE UNSEEN BEINGS / Robert Cozzolino
Dust / Tony Oursler
Magic’s Deconstruction of Art, Science, and Religion / George P. Hansen
WILSON BENTLEY’S ARMY OF SOULS / Alexander Nemerov
Bringing the Invisible to Light: Aura and Psychic Photography / Michelle Donnelly
BLACK BLACK MAGIC / Bridget R. Cooks
The Rootworker’s Worktable / Renée Stout
Contemporary Witch Culture / Lacey Prpić Hedtke
GODDESS, BODY, AND EARTH: FEMINIST SPIRITS IN THE 1970S / Rachel Middleman
Popular Culture and the Paranormal/Supernatural / Jeffrey Andrew Weinstock

Plates
Selected Bibliography
Appendix: Octopus Series
Exhibition Checklist
Contributors
Curator’s Acknowledgments
Lenders to the Exhibition
Photography Credits

Be the first to know

Get the latest updates on new releases, special offers, and media highlights when you subscribe to our email lists!

Sign up here for updates about the Press