The Gurdjieff Foundation of Illinois

G.I. Gurdjieff first came to the United States in 1924, and visited several cities. In March and April of that year, he came to Chicago with a group of pupils he had specially prepared. They gave four performances of movements. The first two notices listed them as "Ancient Sacred Art" and "Ancient Sacred Dances". Notices for the last two were simply called "Mr. Gurdjieff and his Pupils."

Chicagoans then attracted to Gurdjieff's ideas formed the beginnings of a Chicago group, making it one of the oldest groups in the Americas. Some exchanges between Gurdjieff and these early pupils are published in Views from the Real World.

Margaret Anderson and Jane Heap, editors of The Little Review in Chicago, were associates of some of these early pupils but left Chicago prior to Gurdjieff's first visit there. Later, Jane Heap became a leader of Gurdjieff's work in England. It was she who informed members of the Chicago group in 1926 that Gurdjieff had asked Jean Toomer, a well-known writer of the "Harlem Renaissance" genre, to assume leadership of the Chicago group. Gurdjieff visited them several times between 1930 and 1934.

Little is traceable concerning an active Chicago group after the late 1930s, but visible evidence emerged again by the early 1950s. In 1953 the Gurdjieff Foundation of New York was established under the guidance of Madame Jeanne de Salzmann. By the early 1960s the Chicago group was growing, and elders from the New York Foundation began visiting Chicago to guide the work. That tradition continues today.

Gurdjieff at the Prieure