Gershman’s effort evokes not only Whistler’s and Sargent’s, but that from which they took inspiration, Manet’s and Velazquez’s – masters of the figure who in their own ways avoided the banal literalities of their contemporaries for a rendition truer to the vagaries of vision, and (thereby) to the dynamics of human presence.
Peter Frank | Art Critic
World Conference on Fraternalism, Freemasonry, and History: Research in Ritual, Secrecy, and Civil Society convenes May 29-30, 2015.
Zhenya Gershman is a well-known artist, art historian and museum educator. As a co-Founder and President of Project Awe (Aesthetics of Western Esotericism) she has dedicated her scholarly and charitable work to examine the influence of Secret societies on the Arts. Through the esoteric lens, Gershman seeks to provide new dimensions to understanding and experiencing the cultural icons of Western European heritage.
Gershman’s specific area of study and expertise is in the life and work of Rembrandt. In her pioneering article Rembrandt: Turn of the Key, published by Arion and featured by Huffington Post, Gershman was able to reveal the evidence for Rembrandt’s involvement with the early pre-Grand Lodge Freemason fraternity, bringing new light to understanding of this great master.
She has worked for over a decade in the internationally acclaimed J. Paul Getty Museum, and has contributed to such exhibitions as Rembrandt’s Late Religious Portraits and Rembrandt: Telling the Difference. Gershman’s groundbreaking discovery regarding the presence of a hidden Rembrandt self portrait was published by Arion, Boston University and was brought to European audiences by Le Monde, one of the most important international magazines. She is currently working on a book and TV series on Rembrandt.
Created by the journal Ritual, Secrecy, and Civil Society in cooperation with the Bibliotheque Nationale, the first World Conference on Fraternalism, Freemasonry, and History: Research in Ritual, Secrecy, and Civil Society focuses on the study of ritual, secrecy, and civil society vis-à-vis the dynamics of Masonic scholarship around the world.
Secret societies are typically groups whose rituals and activities are hidden away from non-members. Since the time of the crusades, hundreds of secret societies have formed from different parts of the world to serve diverse political, social and religious purposes.
This international conference aims to explore how civil society, secrecy, and ritual have been important elements during different episodes of local and world histories, and still are.
The conference will be held biennially in Paris, and hopes to open new doors while promoting multilingual and multicultural scholarship in areas such as, the relations between such Masonic-related subjects as the Companionnage, guilds, friendly societies, and Greek fraternities.
Conference Committee: Guillermo De Los Reyes (Conference Chair- University of Houston), Paul Rich (George Mason University), Daniel Guiterrez-Sandoval (Policy Studies Organization), Pierre Mollier (Editor, Ritual, Secrecy, and Civil Society), Maria Eugenia Vazquez-Semadeni (University of California, Los Angeles), Brent Morris (Scottish Rite Supreme Council), John Belton (Manchester Association of Masonic Research), Yasha Beresiner (InterCol London)
One of the participants confirmed is the author of Rembrandt’s Secret, noted artist Zhenya Gershman.
Simon Abrahams, Art Historian says, “In a remarkable new essay Zhenya Gershman, an artist and art historian, reveals with convincing evidence that Rembrandt signed himself on his paintings as a Freemason. Yet despite his previously known interest in esoteric matters and especially in the Cabala, no art historian has ever seen this.”
The consequences, as Zhenya fluently explains, are highly significant and confirm that one of the greatest masters of all time did indeed follow the Inner Tradition.”
A working schedule has been posted (subject to change):
World Conference on Fraternalism, Freemasonry & History
Schedule of Events
Day One: Friday- May 29, 2015
9:30 AM Welcome- Grand Auditorium
Guillermo De los Reyes, Conference Chair
Jean-Loup Graton, Bibliothèque Nationale
Pierre Mollier, Editor- Ritual, Secrecy, and Civil Society
10:00 AM Keynote Address- Grand Auditorium
Margaret C. Jacob, Distinguished Professor History, University California of Los Angeles- Where do we go From Here?
Introduced by: Paul J. Rich, President, Policy Studies Organization
11:00 AM Special Instrumental Presentation
400 Years of Masonic Music- Special Instrumental Presentation
11:45AM – 12:45 PM Masonic Bibliography, Individual Sessions
Salon One- John Belton, Problems in Masonic Bibliography
Salon Two- The Masonic Collections of the The Bibliothèque Nationale
2:15 – 3:00 PM Plenary Address
John Cooper, Grand Master of the Grand Lodge of California, President of the North American Conference of Grand Masters- Into the Maelstrom: The Issue of Masonic Regularity, Past and Present
Commentator: Alain Bauer
Chair: Guillermo De Los Reyes
3:00 – 3:30 PM Dance Interpretation of the Initiation
3:45- 4:45 PM Salon Breakout Sessions
Salon One: The Masonic Architecture of Paris
Day Two: Saturday- May 30, 2015
9:30 – 10:45 AM Plenary in Grand Auditorium
Jean-Michel Mathonière, Compagnonnage: Knowledge and Symbols of Knowledge Among Stone Cutters at the End of the Ancien Régime
10:45 – 12: 45 AM Salon Breakout Sessions
Guillermo De Los Reyes and Paul Rich, Smuggling Masonic Books, Politics and Chaos in the Early Mexican Republic
Yasha Beresiner, Medieval Guilds of the City of London and their Later Influence on Freemasonry
Chair: Guillermo Izabal
Zhenya Gershman, Rembrandt’s Secret
Phillip Carter, That Which Was Lost- The Third Pillar
Commentator: Goncalo Amaral
2:30 – 3:30 PM Plenary Session
Brent Morris, Henry Andrew Francken’s Manuscripts: The Ritual Cornerstone of the Ancient and Accepted Scottish Rite
3:30 – 4:30 PM Salon Breakout Sessions
Salon One: John Acaster, The Voyage from Corruption to Harmony: Fresh Insights Into the Inspiration of Noah and ‘the primitive’ Within Freemasonry
Salon Two: Daniel Gutierrez-Sandoval, Publishing Masonic Books is not that Difficult: A Guide to New Realities
Commentator: Rex Kallembach
4:30 PM Closing Plenary Session
Day Three: Sunday- May 31, 2015
~~Informal walking tour of local Masonic sites and architecture (details forthcoming)~~