Julius Evola: Paintings and Artistic Career

Julius Evola came to view Dadaism as decadent later in his life, and the Italian esotericist only spent a few years as a painter. But for fans of his writing and philosophy, the paintings he did in throughout his life hold a special fascination, and provide insights into his later philosophy.

Evola has been called “Italy’s foremost exponent on Dadaism between 1920 and 1923″ (according to Roger Griffin’s Modernism and Fascism, p. 39). Fifty-four of his paintings were exhibited in Rome in 1920, and an exhibition in Berlin included 60 paintings by Evola. and According to an essay on Dada on the website of New York’s Museum of Modern Art, Evola launched a Rome Dada season in April 1921, which included an exhibition at the Galleria d’Arte Bragaglia that included works by Mantuan Dadaists Gino Cantarelli and Aldo Fiozzi, as well as performances at the Grotte dell’Augusteo cabaret. Evola did readings from Tristan Tzara’s Manifeste dada 1918 and said that Futurism was dead, causing an uproar.

Evola’s intellectual autobiography, The Path of Cinnabar, provides insights into his foray into the art world in the chapter “Abstract Art and Dadaism.” He was attracted to Dada for its radicalism, since it “stood for an outlook on life which expressed a tendency towards total liberation, conjoined with the upsetting of all logic, ethic and aesthetic categories, in the most paradoxical and baffling ways” (p. 19). He quotes Tzara: “What is divine within us, is the awakening of an anti-human action” and cites a Dadaist philosophy with a premise in keeping with Evola’s thoughts on the Kali Yuga:

Let each person shout: there is a vast, destructive, negative task to fulfil. To swipe away, and blot out.In a world left in the hands of bandits who are ripping apart and destroying all centuries, an individual’s purity is affirmed by a condition of folly, of aggressive and utter folly. (p. 19)

Evola says that such an emphasis on the absurd seems, at an external level, analogous methods used by schools of the Far East such as Zen, Ch’an, and Lao Tzu’s writings.

If some of Evola’s paintings seem ugly, it’s not without purpose and intent from the artist. In 1920’s Arte astratta, Evola outlined his theory that “passive aesthetic needs were subordinate to the expression of an impulse towards the unconditioned.” Dadasim, as Evola understood it, was not to create art as it’s usually understood, but “signalled the self-dissolution of art into a higher level of freedom” (Cinnabar, p. 20-21).

It was during the Dadaist period of his life that Evola started reading about esotericism. He met neo-Pythagorean occultist Arturo Reghini in the early 1920s. He quit painting in the early 1920s, and stopped writing poetry in 1924–not to pursue either again for more than 40 years (according to Gwendolyn Toynton’s essay “Mercury Rising” at Primordial Traditions). Although Evola left the Dadaist movement after a few years, in an interview in 1970 he said that the movement even today “remains unsurpassed in the radicalism of its attempt to overturn not only the world of art, but all aspects of life” (Cinnabar, p. 257).

The following paintings are compiled from numerous sites on the Internet. I believe this is the most complete and detailed collection of Evola paintings on the web (in English, at least).

Early works (1916-1918):

Julius Evola

Julius Evola, “Tendenze di idealismo sensoriale” (“The tense of aesthetic idealism”), 1916-18

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Julius Evola

Julius Evola, “Sequenza dinamica (etere)” (“Dynamic synthesis (ether)”), 1917-18

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Julius Evola

Julius Evola, “Five o’clock tea,” 1917

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Julius Evola

Julius Evola, “Mazzo di fiori” (“Bunch of flowers”), 1918

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Julius Evola

Julius Evola, “Fucina, studio di rumori” (“The Forge, study on noise sounds”), 1917-18

The painting below appears to have sold at Christie’s for $43,152. A different source gives the date as 1920-21:

Julius Evola

Julius Evola, “Paesaggio interiore ore 3 A.M.” (“Inner Landscape, 3 a.m.”), 1918

The following painting, according to the book Alchemical Mercury: A Theory of Ambivalence by Karen Pinkus, is now in the Kunsthaus of Zurich. On one of the many geometric blocks, Evola has written “Hg” (the symbol for Mercury) in red ink. According to Pinkus, “this is a very interesting gesture, especially as the inscription seems entirely disjoined from the composition itself, as if it had been an afterthought, and a reflection of the troubled relationship between modern chemistry as abstraction and alchemical materiality.”

Julius Evola

Julius Evola, “Paesaggio interiore, illuminazione,” 1919

This oil painting is hanging on a wall of the National Gallery of Modern Art in Rome (according to Guido Stucco’s introduction to The Yoga of Power):

Julius Evola

Julius Evola, “Paesaggio interiore ore 10,30″ (Inner Landscape, 10:30 a.m.”), 1918-20

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Julius Evola

Julius Evola, “Senza titolo,” 1919

This oil-on-cardboard painting comes up in past auction searches for Evola’s work:

Julius Evola

Julius Evola, “Portrait cubiste de femme,” 1919-20

The following two works were published in Evola’s 1920 book Arte astratta: Posizione teorica, 10 poemi, 4 composizioni (Rome: P. Maglione & G. Strini). You can see the other two compositions in a online scan of the book at the website of The International Dada Archive at the University of Iowa Libraries. Evola’s essay “Abstract Art” is available in English translation in the book Dadas on Art.

Julius Evola

Julius Evola, “Composizione N. 3,” c. 1920

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Julius Evola

Julius Evola, “Composizione,” c. 1920

Middle Works (early 1920s):

Julius Evola

Julius Evola, “Composizione (Paesaggio) dada N. 3” (“Composition (Landscape) dada N. 3”), c. 1920

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Julius Evola

Julius Evola, “Astrazione” (“Abstraction”), 1920

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Julius Evola

Julius Evola, “Astrazione” (“Abstraction”), 1920

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Julius Evola

Julius Evola, “Composizione Dada,” 1920

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Julius Evola

Julius Evola, “Composizione n. 19,” 1918-20

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Julius Evola

Julius Evola, “Piccola tavola (vista superiore)” (“Small table (upper surface)”), 1920

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Julius Evola

Julius Evola, “Paesaggio interire, aperture del diaframma” (“Interior landscape, the opening of the diaphragm”), 1920-21

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Julius Evola

Julius Evola, “La libra s’infiamma e le piramidi” (“The book in flames and the piramides”), 1920-21

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Julius Evola

Julius Evola, “Senza titolo,” 1921

Late paintings:

Numerous sources on the web, including academic papers and art auction houses, show paintings by Evola that he did much later in his life, several which are shown below. If any readers know where to find information about Evola’s later works in English, I would greatly appreciate being contacted in order to update this section.

This painting was listed at an art auction website, and said to be painted in 1945:

Julius Evola

Julius Evola, “Paesaggio interiore”

The following two paintings are cited in Julius Evola: L’Altra Faccia Della Modernita by Francesca Ricci and appear on the website of the Fondazione Julius Evola.

Julius Evola

Julius Evola, “Nudo di donna (afroditica)” (“Nude of aphrodite beauty”), 1960-70

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Julius Evola

Julius Evola, “La genitrice dell’universo” (“The generator of the Universe”), 1968-70

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For more posts on radical traditionalism and Julius Evola, please click to visit the archives.

Interested in seeing more of Julius Evola’s artwork? Check out this video, which has additional images:

And this French TV interview, with English subtitles, is Julius Evola on Dada: