1.7.7 Abstract Art (20th c)

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QUICK LINKS:
Composition IV
Man with a guitar
Unique forms of Continuity in Space
Suprematist Composition: Airplane Flying
Painterly Architectonic
Treachery of Images

Broadway Boogie Woogie
Number 1, 1948
Four Darks in Red
One, Number 31
10/27/69
Couplet IV
With My Back to the World

One pioneer of abstract art was Wassily Kandinsky, a Russian painter and art theorist. It was his work on art theory that earned him the sibriquet ‘pioneer’ rather than his paintings per se. In 1896, Kandinsky had settled in Munich, studying at its Academy of Fine Arts. He helped in founding the Neue Künstlervereinigung München (Munich New Artists’ Association), becoming its president in 1909.

When this dissolved in 1911 he helped to found the Der Blaue Reiter movement, with like-minded artists (August Macke, Franz Marc, Albert Bloch and Gabriele Münter).

His writing in The Blue Rider Almanac and the treatise On the Spiritual in Art (1910) were both a defence and a promotion of abstract art in proposing that all forms of art were equally capable of reaching a level of spirituality. That colour could be used in a painting as something autonomous, not just as a visual description of an object or form.

But, WW1 prompted his return to Moscow in 1914. Following the Russian Revolution, Kandinsky became part of the cultural administration and helped establish the Museum of the Culture of Painting. But he returned to Germany in 1920 where he taught at the Bauhaus school of art and architecture from 1922 until the Nazis closed it in 1933.

[1770-10]

Composition IV: is said to be is a semi-abstract representation of Cossacks in Moscow during the revolutionary period 1905-1906. Two Cossacks are seen with sabers in the upper left corner of the painting. On the right, are several Cossacks carrying lances and one with a saber against a blue hill with a house on it. A rainbow in the middle left of the picture signifies a bridge.
[Source: Wikimdeia commons]

Image source: Wikimedia commons
TITLE:YEAR:FORM:GENRE:
Composition IV1911Oil/CanvasAbstract
ARTIST:DATES:ORIGIN:MOVEMENT:
Kandinsky. Wassilly1866-1944, aged 77Russian painterAbstract Art 20th
LOCATION:SIZE (cms): [1770-11]

Kunstsammlung Nordrhein-Westfalen, Dusseldorf, Germany160 x 251

Image source: Wikimedia commons
Man with a guitar: Georges Braque is better known for his alliance with Fauvism in 1905, and his work 1908-1912 with Picasso in developing Cubism.

The Man with a Guitar (1912) was clearly abstract. but became known as ‘Analytic Cubism’, said to be a challenge to orthodoxy of illusionistic space in painting.
[Source: Wikimedia commons]
TITLE:YEAR:FORM:GENRE:
Man with a guitar1911-1912Oil/CanvasAbstract
ARTIST:DATES:ORIGIN:MOVEMENT:
Braque, Georges1882-1963, aged 81French painterAbstract Art 20th
LOCATION:SIZE (cms): [1770-12]

MOMA, Museum of Modern Art, NY116 x 81
Unique Forms of Continuity in Space: is a bronze Futurist sculpture. It is a human-like figure apparently in motion and is seen as an expression of movement and fluidity, almost aerodynamic. However, the figure has no discernible face and no arms. Some suggest It is reminiscent of the classical Winged Victory of Samothrace. The lack of arms is also said to pas homage to Auguste Rodin’s Walking Man.

The sculpture was selected to be depicted on the obverse of the Italian-issue 20c euro coin.
[Source: christies.com]

Image source: christies.com
TITLE:YEAR:FORM:GENRE:
Unique Forms of Continuity in Space1913BronzeAbstract/ Sculpture
ARTIST:DATES:ORIGIN:MOVEMENT:
Boccioni, Umberto1882-1916, aged 33Italian painterAbstract Art 20th
LOCATION:SIZE (cms): [1770-13]

Tate Galleries118 x 88 x 37

Image source: Wikimedia commons
Suprematist Composition: Airplane Flying – In December 1915, at the Last Futurist Exhibition of Paintings 0.10 (zero-ten) in Petrograd (now St. Petersburg).

Malevich unveiled a radically new mode of abstract painting that abandoned all reference to the outside world in favour of coloured geometric shapes floating against white backgrounds.

His style claimed supremacy over the forms of nature, so he called it ‘Suprematism’. He sought to develop a form of expression that moved away from the world of objective natural forms in order to access the supremacy of pure feeling and spirituality.

For Malevich, the white backgrounds against which they were set mapped the boundless space of the ideal.
[Source: Wikimedia commons]
TITLE:YEAR:FORM:GENRE:
Suprematist Composition: Airplane Flying1915Oil/CanvasAbstract
ARTIST:DATES:ORIGIN:MOVEMENT:
Malevich, Kazimir 1878-1935, aged 57Russian painterAbstract Art 20th
LOCATION:SIZE (cms): [1770-14]

MOMA, Museum of Modern Art, NY57 x 48
Painterly Architectonic: Influenced by her visits to western Europe, before World War I, Popova helped introduce into Russian art the Cubist and Futurist ideas she encountered in France and Italy. Her model of abstraction is implied by her use of the term “architectonic”: treating planes almost as solid material entities, Popova built a monumental composition focused on the interrelationships between individual parts.
[Source: moma.org]

Image source: moma.org
TITLE:YEAR:FORM:GENRE:
Painterly Architectonic1917Oil/CanvasAbstract
ARTIST:DATES:ORIGIN:MOVEMENT:
Popova, Lyubov 1889-1924, aged 34Russian painterAbstract Art 20th
LOCATION:SIZE (cms): [1770-15]

MOMA, Museum of Modern Art, NY98 x 80

Image source: Wikimedia commons
The Treachery of Images: is a 1929 painting by Belgian surrealist painter René Magritte.

The painting shows an image of a pipe. Below it, Magritte painted, ‘Ceci n’est pas une pipe‘, or ‘This is not a pipe’.
The famous pipe. How people reproached me for it! And yet, could you stuff my pipe? No, it’s just a representation, is it not? So if I had written on my picture ‘This is a pipe’, I’d have been lying! René Magritte.
[Source: Wikimedia commons]
TITLE:YEAR:FORM:GENRE:
Treachery of Images1928-9Oil/CanvasAbstract/ Surrealism
ARTIST:DATES:ORIGIN:MOVEMENT:
Magritte, Réne1898-1967, aged 68Belgian painterAbstract Art 20th
LOCATION:SIZE (cms): [1770-16]

Los Angeles County Museum of Art81 x 60
Broadway Boogie Woogie: is a painting by Piet Mondrian he had moved to New York in 1940 and completed this in 1943, after. Compared to his earlier work, this canvas is divided into a much larger number of squares. Although he spent most of his career creating abstract work, this painting is inspired by clear real-world examples: the city grid of Manhattan, and boogie-woogie, the African-American Blues music he loved.
[Source: Wikimedia commons]

Image source: Wikimedia commons
TITLE:YEAR:FORM:GENRE:
Broadway Boogie Woogie1942-1943Oil/CanvasAbstract
ARTIST:DATES:ORIGIN:MOVEMENT:
Mondrian, Piet1872-1944, aged 71Dutch painterAbstract Art 20th
LOCATION:SIZE (cms): [1770-17]

MOMA, Museum of Modern Art, NY127 x 127

Image source: moma.org
Number 1, 1948: Working on the floor in a spacious converted barn on Long Island, Pollock moved away from traditional artist’s oil paints and embraced lower viscosity commercial enamel paints.The fluidity of this paint allowed him to directly capture the movements of his entire body over the canvas.

Sometimes I use a brush but often prefer using a stick. Sometimes I pour the paint straight out of the can. I like to use a dripping, fluid paint. Pollock.
[Source: moma.org]
TITLE:YEAR:FORM:GENRE:
Number 1, 19481948Oil /Enamel/CanvasAbstract
ARTIST:DATES:ORIGIN:MOVEMENT:
Pollock, Jackson1912-1956, aged 44American painterAbstract Art 20th
LOCATION:SIZE (cms): [1770-18]

MOMA, Museum of Modern Art, NY173 x 264
Four Darks in Red: exemplifies Mark Rothko’s darker palette of the late 1950s, when he increasingly used red, maroon, and saturated black paints. Four dark rectangular areas of different proportions dominate the composition, simultaneously emerging from and receding into a luminous red ground. Rothko’s method of layering many coats of paint, along with the special reflective qualities of his color mixtures, gives his paintings an inimitable depth and incandescence.
[source: whitney.org]

Image source: Wikimedia commons
TITLE:YEAR:FORM:GENRE:
Four Darks in Red1948Oil/CanvasAbstract
ARTIST:DATES:ORIGIN:MOVEMENT:
Rothko, Mark1903-1970, aged 67American painterAbstract Art 20th
LOCATION:SIZE (cms): [1770-19]

Whitney Museum of American Art, New York102 x 116

Image source: moma.org
One, Number 31: one of Pollock’s largest paintings, exemplifies his ‘drip’ technique, in which he dropped, dribbled, or threw paint onto a canvas laid on the floor.

His looping cords of colour accordingly register force and speed yet are also graceful and lyrical, animating every inch of the composition. On the floor, Pollock said, I am more at ease. I feel nearer, more a part of the painting since this way I can walk around it, work from the four sides and literally be in the painting. Pollock’s process has been compared to the movements of a dance.
[source: moma.org]
TITLE:YEAR:FORM:GENRE:
One, Number 311950Oil and enamel paint on canvasAbstract
ARTIST:DATES:ORIGIN:MOVEMENT:
Pollock, Jackson1912-1956, aged 44American painterAbstract Art 20th
LOCATION:SIZE (cms): [1770-20]

MOMA, Museum of Modern Art, NY531 x 270
10/27/69: As an African American artist who remained committed to abstraction during the height of the civil rights movement, Gilliam deliberately worked against the grain.

He is best known for unstretched abstract paintings that he drapes from the ceiling, slings over sawhorses, or, as is the case here, pins to the wall. They range from mural-size canvases to a small single sheet hung like a towel on a doorknob.

In this work, the cloth is gathered at three points and nailed to the wall, which allows its shape—two primary folds—to be dictated by gravity. Its complex surface is the result of several different methods of applying paint, including soaking, splattering, and folding the fabric onto itself.
[source: moma.org]

Image source: moma.org
TITLE:YEAR:FORM:GENRE:
10/27/691969Installation – acrylic on canvasAbstract
ARTIST:DATES:ORIGIN:MOVEMENT:
Gillam, Sam1933-American painterAbstract Art 20th
LOCATION:SIZE (cms): [1770-21]

MOMA, Museum of Modern Art, NY356 x 470

Image source: moma.org
Couplet IV: is the last in a series of four works named for a pair of successive lines of verse that rhyme and are the same length. The painting illustrates Marden’s enduring relationship with painting, maintained while his contemporaries abandoned the medium and began to question its agency.

Marden has declared painting his chosen ‘method’ or ‘path’ and has said, To me, one of the most compelling aspects of modernism is its commitment to constant striving, to improve on what was there before.

This painting marks a departure from the style of the artist’s early monochromatic works and conveys his desire to achieve perfection through his craft. [source: moma.org]
TITLE:YEAR:FORM:GENRE:
Couplet IV1988-1989Oil/LinenAbstract
ARTIST:DATES:ORIGIN:MOVEMENT:
Marden, Brice1938 – American painterAbstract Art 20th
LOCATION:SIZE (cms): [1770-22]

MOMA, Museum of Modern Art, NY274 x 152
With my back to the world: Martin was in her mid-80s and residing in an assisted living facility when she made this work. Though she remained strong and lucid, she reduced the size of her larger canvases to 60 x 60 inches so that she could handle them more easily.

This was a series of six paintings form a series that Martin considered a single entity titled With My Back to the World. Its title encapsulates her worldview and hermetic lifestyle, that art sits outside of the cares and corruption of the world. Martin often worked in series and sometimes sought to have her works displayed alone.

In this case, she wanted to envelop viewers within her vision, pastel bands of blue, peach, and yellow. These six, banded canvases may at first appear to be identical, but with time, attention, and a closer look, their many small variations reveal themselves.
[Source: moma.org]

Image source: moma.org
TITLE:YEAR:FORM:GENRE:
With My Back to the World (six panels)1997Synthetic polymer paint on canvasAbstract
ARTIST:DATES:ORIGIN:MOVEMENT:
Martin, Agnes1912-2004, aged 82Canadian-American painterAbstract Art 20th
LOCATION:SIZE (cms):
MOMA, Museum of Modern Art, NY153 x 153

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