The Inscape group of artists was founded in 1961 by a small group of 5 artists, but then later in 1995, under Brigid Marlin‘s guidance it transformed into The Society forArt of Imagination. It has grown to be one of the largest groups of Fantastic Artists, with over 400 members from 23 countries. The American branch is a registered US Charity. The aim was to form a movement where artists of Vision and Craftsmanship could unite together to create a forum for the Exhibition and promotion of Art of Imagination.
A work of imagination originates when artists express their awareness of some significant relationship with larger forces or realities using realism in an effort to reveal their secrets.
It may be called by many names – Fantastic Realism, Surrealism, Magic Realism, Visionary Art, Inspirational Art – but the Society has chosen ‘Art of Imagination’ because it is the least restrictive and yet most unifying title.
In 1961 a group of artists from England, dissatisfied with the way the art world was going, began to work together, calling themselves the Inscape Group. They were Diana Hesketh (1931–), Peter Holland, Brigid Marlin (1936–) Jack Ray and Steve Snell (1946-). They worked together to experiment with different ideas and techniques.
One member of the Inscape group, Brigid Marlin, went to study with Ernst Fuchs in Vienna in 1966. She was able to learn the Mische Technique, which was recieved with enthusiasm by other members who began to work with, and teach the technique in England, Europe and America.
Members of the Inscape group were invited by Ernst Fuchs to come to Wartholz Castle, to his 1968 Summer Seminar, where artists from all over the world came to exchange ideas, and work together experimenting with old and newly evolved techniques. The Summer Seminar continued for seven years under the direction of Wolfgang Manner, and brought about great art and great friendships.
As artists from different countries worked to promote each other and the cause of fine art, World-wide Exchange Exhibitions were set up in different countries and the Inscape Group became known as Inscape International as of 1972. In the years between 1973 – 1992 Inscape International went on to exhibit in Paris, Ireland, Holland, Sweden, Tokyo, the United States and Canada. Lectures and classes were given on the Mische technique in Europe, the United States and Canada,
In 1993 Professor Ernst Fuchs summoned some of the Inscape artists to meet at Grafenegg Castle near Vienna to discuss the way forward towards promoting the Art of Imagination. He asked each artist to work towards this end. He had by now founded The Ernst Fuchs Museum in the villa built by Otto Wagner, and was planning an International Museum for Fantastic Art at the Saxe-Coburg Palais in Vienna.
Maurizio Albarelli launched a major Exhibition “Du Fantastique au Visionnaire”, the largest of its kind ever to be staged, at the Zitelle Cultural Centre, Venice in 1994, which included the work of many members of Inscape International. Two years later, Rosemary Bassi organized the first of several shows of Fantastic paintings and sculpture inclluding Inscape International Members at her Galerie Rolandseck near Bonn, Germany
1997 Inscape International decided to expand their Membership and work to help to promotion of Imaginative Art around the World. To facilitate this it changed its name to The Society for Art of Imagination. Ernst Fuchs agreed to be Honorary President.
The Society for Art of Imagination launched a world premiere in 1998 – the very first Open Exhibition for Art of Imagination. It took place at the Mall Galleries, London. Virginia Rogers, a patron of vision, pledged to the Society $10,000.00 every year to distribute as prize money.
1999 The Erlangen Museum near Nurnberg, Germany, arranged a huge exhibition “Phantastik am Ende der Zeit” planned by Dr. Christine Ivanovic. The show was arranged in historical order , starting with the early woodcuts and engravings of Schongauer 1481, and Altdorfer c 1511, then on to the paintings of Bosch and Breughel, followed by Ensor and Munch, Max Ernst, Dali , and Paul Wunderlich. The Vienna School of Fantastic Realism was well represented, and the Exhibition displayed the work of many Members of The Society for Art of Imagination .The Exhibition formed part of a Symposium on Fantastic Art and attracted more than 10,000 visitors.
1999 & 2000 The Open Exhibition for Art of Imagination at the Mall Galleries continued. This Exhibition had now become a very popular annual event, giving artists of Imagination a public forum, and a chance to win valuable prizes. Many artists have been discovered through showing there, and have been taken up by visiting art dealers. The money awards helped artists who were finding it hard to survive.
A Magazine called Inscape was launched by the Society, to appear twice annually for its members.
Lectures and classes were set up to spread the knowledge of good techniques in painting and sculpture.
2001 H R Giger agreed to be an Honorary Patron, and invited Vonn Stropp, 1st Prize-Winner of the Art of Imagination Exhibition 2000 , and other members of the Society to visit his home in Switzerland, and travel with him to the H R Giger Museum at Gruyeres. An Exhibition of Members’ work at his Museum was discussed.
2001 Damian Michaels from Australia, a Member of the Society for Art of Imagination and Editor of the acclaimed magazine “Art Visionary”, launched the opening of his International Collection of Fantastic and Visionary Art at the Orange Museum, Australia, which was opened by the Director of the Society or Art of Imagination. The Exhibition was recieved with great enthusiasm and praise for its excellent quality. A special workshop on the Mische Technique was also organised in Melbourne.
The members of the Society work independently of one another in various countries yet their work shows a consistent ethos and, whether the work is a painting, sculpture, computer-originated art or 3D object, it speaks a universal language. Though each work is its own, separate, distinct and original creation there is a kindred spirit unimpaired by language, time or distance.
Honorary Art Members of AOI are Ernst Fuchs, HR Giger, Martina Hoffmann, Alex Grey, Laurie Lipton, Henry Boxer, De Es , and Ingo.
The Society maintains a website listing all of their active members.