Skip to main content Accessibility help
×
Home
Hostname: page-component-99c86f546-swqlm Total loading time: 0.458 Render date: 2021-11-29T14:02:08.461Z Has data issue: true Feature Flags: { "shouldUseShareProductTool": true, "shouldUseHypothesis": true, "isUnsiloEnabled": true, "metricsAbstractViews": false, "figures": true, "newCiteModal": false, "newCitedByModal": true, "newEcommerce": true, "newUsageEvents": true }

13 - The Rise and (Partial) Fall of Abstract Painting in the Twentieth Century

Published online by Cambridge University Press:  05 June 2012

David W. Galenson
Affiliation:
University of Chicago
Get access

Summary

Introduction

The abstract painter denounces representation of the outer world as a mechanical process of the eye and the hand in which the artist's feelings and imagination have little part. Or in a Platonic manner he opposes to the representation of objects, as a rendering of the surface aspect of nature, the practice of abstract design as a discovery of the “essence” or underlying mathematical order of things.

Meyer Schapiro, 1937

Abstraction is perhaps the single most distinctive development in twentieth-century painting. It is also among the most misunderstood, not only by the general public, but also by many in the art world. In part this is a consequence of its variety, for artists have made nonrepresentational art from many different motives, using many different techniques. This chapter will trace the changing role of abstraction in painting over time, considering the goals of some of its most important practitioners, and examining their methods. Before presenting a chronological treatment, however, it is valuable to begin with a cautionary lesson.

Deceptive Appearances

[W]ith Mondrian, arriving at the idea was of exceptional importance. The conception came before the painting; it was the primary act of creation.

Harold Rosenberg, 1971

When Piet Mondrian died in 1944, the critic Clement Greenberg declared that his painting “takes its place beside the greatest art.” Greenberg went on to defend what he considered the mechanical nature of Mondrian's art: “Perhaps Mondrian will be reproached for the anonymity with which he strove for the ruled precision of the geometer and the machine in executing his paintings: their conceptions can be communicated by a set of specifications and dimensions, sight unseen, and realized by a draftsman.

Type
Chapter
Information
Publisher: Cambridge University Press
Print publication year: 2009

Access options

Get access to the full version of this content by using one of the access options below. (Log in options will check for institutional or personal access. Content may require purchase if you do not have access.)

Send book to Kindle

To send this book to your Kindle, first ensure no-reply@cambridge.org is added to your Approved Personal Document E-mail List under your Personal Document Settings on the Manage Your Content and Devices page of your Amazon account. Then enter the ‘name’ part of your Kindle email address below. Find out more about sending to your Kindle.

Note you can select to send to either the @free.kindle.com or @kindle.com variations. ‘@free.kindle.com’ emails are free but can only be sent to your device when it is connected to wi-fi. ‘@kindle.com’ emails can be delivered even when you are not connected to wi-fi, but note that service fees apply.

Find out more about the Kindle Personal Document Service.

Available formats
×

Send book to Dropbox

To send content items to your account, please confirm that you agree to abide by our usage policies. If this is the first time you use this feature, you will be asked to authorise Cambridge Core to connect with your account. Find out more about sending content to Dropbox.

Available formats
×

Send book to Google Drive

To send content items to your account, please confirm that you agree to abide by our usage policies. If this is the first time you use this feature, you will be asked to authorise Cambridge Core to connect with your account. Find out more about sending content to Google Drive.

Available formats
×